The Fort Pickens Trail was created and is sponsored by BSA Troop 3 of Pensacola, Florida in conjunction with the Gulf Islands National Seashore. In early 1982, the Fort Pickens Trail was created at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Fort Pickens Facility, ten miles south of Pensacola, Florida, directly West of Pensacola Beach. It has a well-developed historical facility that dates back to the early 1800’s as a military fort and prison. Tours guided by Rangers and self-guided tours are available. Also, there are wildlife exhibits and shows that cover the fish, animals and plant life of the area. A patch and medal can be earned by hiking the trail. For additional information on The Fort Pickens Historical Trail, or to order Fort Pickens Historical Trail patches and medals, contact:
BSA Troop 3 - Fort Pickens
c/o Cokesbury United Methodist Church
5725 North 9th Avenue
Pensacola, Florida 32504-8920
The trail snakes around the beautiful Gulf Shore island with its white beaches, historical forts and batteries. The trail is approximately 10 miles long with good camping facilities available. This trail is unique because you will go from a dark battery to a very bright beach. On this trail, it is recommended that you take with you a flashlight, canteen, sunglasses and a hat. The trail takes 3 hours of hard hiking. If you want to explore and look around the batteries and the fort, it might take as long as 5 or 6 hours. In the camping season, you may have to make reservations for the group campsite up to 6 months in advance.
Reservations for camping at the Fort Pickens Group Tenting Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore can be made by on-line at http://reservations.nps.gov/ . As a service to future Scouts and visitors at Fort Pickens, each Scout troop hiking the trail is asked to bring a few trash bags to use to collect debris that floats up on the beaches. It is a good turn and a service project for your troop.
The beginning of the trail is in the “group campsite” located on the west side of Battery Langdon. Proceed through the back of the camp, (North), keeping to the right until you come to a shell road (Bike Trail). You will then go right (East), and follow the trail until you come to Langdon Picnic Shelter on your left. Proceed to your left (North), down the concrete road until you come to the beach. Turn right (East), and walk down the beach and up to the ranger Station (water fountain, trash bags).
Cross the main road and walk to the small concrete building South of the main road and answer question #1. Proceed to Battery Langdon and answer question #2. Then go South to the beach by way of Langdon Beach parking lot and boardwalk and turn right (West). Please do not cut across the dunes as this is a major cause of dune erosion. Continue down the beach until you come to the Dune Nature Trail. Answer question #3. Follow the nature trail and then turn North on the boardwalk until you reach the main road. Take the main road West until you come to the Campground Store. This is a good spot for a rest break and its balcony view.
Follow the paved road North to Campground Loop B, then West to Battery Worth. Proceed South across the main road and along the paved road South to Battery Cooper. Follow the paved road to the West and visit Battery 234. Answer question #4. Follow the paved road North, past the World War II tower and cross the main road again. To the North of the main road is a plantation cemetery. Answer question #5.
The unpaved road just to the East of the cemetery leads North to the Bike Trail. After reaching the Bike Trial, turn left (West) and follow the trail until you reach the Fort Pickens parking lot. Part of the trail is taking the self-guided or Ranger-guided tour of the fort. The pamphlet for this can be acquired at the Quarter Master Store to the left (S-E). Read the pamphlet and all the signs to answer questions #6 through #12. After the tour, take the foot path to the Northwest and visit the Sand Box and Museum Headquarters. They usually have some very interesting exhibits on display. Afterwards, take a walk out on the fishing pier. Follow the paved road West past the fishing pier to Battery Truman, South to Battery Payne, etc. Proceed to the intersection and follow the road straight through, it will lead you back to the Fort Pickens parking lot.
Take the Bike Trail on the East end of the parking lot and follow it East until you come to the Battery Worth parking lot. Take the trail on the North East corner of the parking lot to the Amphitheater. Regular evening shows are held in the Amphitheater during the summer and information can be obtained from the Rangers. Follow the Southeastern trail out of the Amphitheater to the campground loops. Follow loops B and E until you reach the Bike Trail at the East end of Loop E. Follow the Bike Trail East until you reach the Blackbird Marsh Nature Trail. Follow the Nature trail loop and answer questions #13 and #14. After leaving the nature trail, follow the Bike Trail East until you come to the area where you left camp.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FORT PICKENS HISTORICAL TRAIL
1. What do you think
the small concrete building was used for?
2. When was Battery
3. How long is Santa
4. How many weapons
are mounted at Battery 234?
5. How old was George
Underhill when he died?
*6. How many cannons
was Fort Pickens designed to mount?
*7. Who was the engineer
that built Fort Pickens?
8. Why was the concept
of coastal defense system abandoned?
9. Why is Bastion D
10. The battery in the
center of Fort Pickens originally manned two 12-inch ___________?
*11. What is the advantage
to the shape of Fort Pickens?
12. Who was the famous
American Indian that was imprisoned at Fort Pickens?
13. What is the name
of the plant whose dried leaves were used during the Civil War as a substitute
14. This plant's berries
have a large amount of wax and were once collected for candle making.
What is it?
*Information plaques and displays
for these questions may not be present. The answers must be determined
by asking the Rangers, or reading in the Quarter Master’s store, or through
Divine Scoutmaster Wisdom.
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