Sunday, 19 June 2016

Apalachicola Summer Fun-Run Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 6.1 km (3.8 miles), terrain: flat

If you visit the Florida Panhandle, Apalachicola is sure to be one of those places that stand out as a favorite: a quiet, authentic fishing town on beautiful Apalachicola Bay, full of historic homes, with some of the Gulf-Coast's nicest islands just offshore to the east and west, forming the southern boundary of the bay.
Apalachicola home with live-oak
The people there take great pride in their gracious Victorian-era neighborhoods, full of shady live-oaks and fragrant Confederate jasmine, and the town makes a great place to run. This route combines a loop through the scenic old town with a stretch along the funkier Apalachicola River waterfront, out to the little Botanical Garden.

So get yourself to this great oyster-fishing town, and head to the landmark Gibson Inn on Market Street, just west of where the miles-long Gorrie Bridge carries the coast road, US98, over Apalachicola Bay and into town.
Crab traps in Apalachicola
This few blocks of shops and a gas station form the main business street in this little town of 2,000 people. The Gibson Inn, with its wraparound porches, is the local hangout, day and night. Just across the street you'll see the little Franklin County Courthouse, this being the county seat.

So, let's get a move-on. Turn towards the stone courthouse and run north on the side street called Avenue C. In two blocks, it ends at Water Street, where you turn left and continue for a kilometer. Water Street is home to the fishing fleet, and it also has the few waterfront tourist motels and restaurants in town.
Buoys along Water Street
The water here is that of the Apalachicola River, which flows into the bay right at the bridge. The river begins way up in the North Georgia hills, 180 kilometers north of here.

After passing the little downtown and the fishing boats, you'll run by various houseboats and some somewhat dilapidated businesses.
House-boats for rent
Water Street ends at a little park, with a Vietnam Veterans memorial and the botanical garden. Loop through the garden: it looks like visitors are required to pay entrance, but the grounds-keeper just gave me a friendly wave as I followed my little loop through the simple park.

Exit the park on the other side, heading southwest along Fulton Street for three blocks. This traditionally black neighborhood is fairly simple, and not part of the historic district, but it has its own charms. It's a laid-back, mixed neighborhood with blacks and whites sharing the neighborhood, and it has a few cool old houses and a surprising number of little churches. At 8th Street, at the 2-km mark, turn left to head back towards the old town.
Graves in Chestnut Cemetery
At Avenue I, you'll pass a really cool community garden on your right. Turn left here to run along the back side of the historic Chestnut Cemetary, full of Civil War graves.

When you get to 6th Street, turn right and cross Avenue E (US 98) and into the old town. The Coombs House Inn bed-and-breakfast is on your right and the little Trinity Episcopal Church on your left. The church one of the first pre-fabricated buildings in the US, having been built in New York City to be pegged-together on its present site almost 200 years ago. 
House in the historic district with little lookout on roof
This scenic spot combines a few little parks, a couple of cannons and the John Gorrie Museum (a local doctor, he experimented with refrigeration and air-conditioning to help his fevered patients).

Now run past the Catholic Church down to the bayfront, where 6th Street ends at the marina at Bay Avenue, at the 3-km mark. Turn right here to continue along the water.
Jasmine flowing into the sidewalks: what a fragrant place to run!
Bay Avenue ends at 13th Street, where you turn right to run up the little bluff where Lafayette Park provides a nice view over the bay. Follow the wooden boardwalk out over the water for an even better view.
Home on Lafayette Park
Then return back to the park and exit to the southwest to continue along Avenue B until you hit 16th Street.
Another great house along Columbus Street
Now turn northwest onto 16th Street for a block back to Columbus Street. Here you turn right and run all the way back through the historic district to the Gibson Inn again. This will take you past some of the nicest old homes. Enjoy the neighborhood! You might even want to zig-zag up and down some of the side streets in this great area.
Home with natural garden

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