The entrance to Fort Clinch State Park is just about a mile and a half east of the Historic District of Fernandina Beach on the north end of Amelia Island. The park, one of Florida’s lesser-known gems, includes a large, well preserved Civil War-era fort surrounded by a 3-mile strand of protected beaches and 1,400 acres of woods crossed by hiking and biking trails. The drive between the entrance and the fort itself is also quite scenic due to the dense canopy of trees that arc over the road. The fort, which was originally built as a defense against attacks from seafaring intruders, was briefly occupied by the Confederacy, who abandoned the site shortly before it was seized and greatly fortified by the Union. Later, Fort Clinch was utilized during the the Spanish-American War and served as a base for monitoring the coastal waters during WWII. The fort stands sentinel at the northern tip of Amelia Island, looking across the wide mouth of the St. Marys River that marks the state line. With its series of tunnels, chambers, and winding stairways made of brick and a backdrop of beautiful beach and water views, Fort Clinch is a must-see for a couple hours of fun exploration. Elsewhere in the park is the half-mile long Ft. Clinch Fishing Pier paralleling the jetties that distinguish the Atlantic Ocean from the mouth of the St. Marys River. From the pier, one can see the natural landscape of the state park, the houses of Main Beach, and even a few of the distant luxury midrise condos that line the southern half of the island. Cumberland Island is also visible, though from a much more distant vantage point than from the fort itself. Camping facilities are also available at a few locations within the park. On a recent trip, we spent roughly four hours or so exploring the fort and strolling the length of the fishing pier.
BEACHES OF FT. CLINCH STATE PARK
EXTERNAL LINKS TO AMELIA ISLAND PLACES I HAVE VISITED: