If you’re planning a Fido-friendly outdoor adventure in Florida’s Tate’s Hell State Forest, you’d be barking mad not to consider camping at the Deep Creek Primitive Sites, not least because you can stay there for only $9.17 (plus an $8 fee to enter the forest). You’ll need to "ruff" it a bit, though -- when they say primitive, they mean primitive! Each campsite comes with a fire ring and picnic table only. There aren’t even any restrooms available -- you and your buddy will need to make like a bear.
The Deep Creek Primitive Sites refer to 3 different sites dispersed throughout the forest. One is located at Doyle Creek, one at Whiskey Gorge, and one at Deep Creek itself. Campers at Doyle Creek and Deep Creek can expect waterside views, and all three are well shaded by majestic flatwoods.
Tate’s Hell State Forest comes with an interesting story. The forest allegedly got its name from a local farmer called Cebe Tate, who disappeared into the wilderness in 1875 armed with a rifle and the burning desire to kill a Florida panther who’d been snacking on his livestock. Cebe wandered through the forest for seven days, and having been bitten by a venomous snake, fell out of a clearing near Carrabelle, uttering the words “My name is Cebe Tate, and I’ve just come from hell,” before expiring.
However, hound-dog hikers and plant spotters might think they’ve died and gone to heaven! The forest is home to a couple of boardwalk trails, running past swamps, dwarf cypress groves, and carnivorous pitcher plant prairies. At 0.2 miles, the Ralph G. Kendrick Trail barely deserves to be called a walk, but it’s worth a wander to see the centuries-old dwarf cypress trees rising from the swamp. If you and your buddy are looking for something to get your teeth into, consider a trek on the High Bluff Coastal Trail, a 9-mile long series of loops that showcase scrublands, sand pines, and Carrabelle Beach. Keen anglers shouldn’t feel left out -- there’s good fishing in Deep Creek!
A note on the address listed here: the campsites are accessible from Tower Road within Tate's Hell State Forest. The location does not show up correctly on Google Maps -- it may be a good idea to call the forest's main office ahead of time for more accurate directions, especially if you plan to rely on GPS.
Unsurprisingly, WiFi isn’t available at the sites, and cellular coverage varies from network to network. Fires are permitted, but there’s no water on-site -- you’ll need to bring your own bottle. Have a pawesome time!