Amelia Island’s Largest Natural Area
Fort Clinch Reopened For Active Recreation
It was a gorgeous, picture-perfect day to walk around the coastline here on Amelia Island within this wonderful state park, the largest natural area remaining on this northeast Florida barrier island.
The beaches looked windswept at Fort Clinch State Park this morning, May 13, 2020. Florida’s Governor had shut down the Sunshine State’s parks nearly eight weeks ago, amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Coastal scenes here are around the outer walls of the historic fortress along the Cumberland Sound (western inlet). Plus some images around the jetty (where the fishing pier once stood, removed after Hurricane Matthew).
Several fishermen, in a few spots, cast lines from the shoreline, while a handful of others walked along the beachfront near the jetty.
Open For Active Recreation
New signage in place on May 13, 2020 near the pier walkway entrance indicates the shoreline is open for “walking, jogging, swimming and fishing.” But not for sunbathing (“no chairs, canopies or coolers”), see sign with more guidelines pictured below.
Follow Social Distancing Guidelines
According to Florida State Parks’ website:
“Effective Wednesday, May 13, 2020: Fort Clinch State Park is open for day use activities. The concession is closed. Restroom availability may be limited, all other park facilities are closed. Visitors are expected to maintain distances of at least six feet apart and limit group size to ten or fewer people,”FLORIDA STATE PARKS 5-13-2020
Both the riverfront and oceanfront campgrounds remain closed. Florida State Parks’ website indicates the park system’s campgrounds remain closed through May 20, 2020. (* NEWS UPDATE * — Fort Clinch campgrounds have reopened as of May 21, 2020.)
During the morning on this “soft opening” day (not announced in advance), the park was serene and virtually empty. Those who ventured in were spread out around the large park of 1,400-plus acres. Along the park’s tree canopy-covered road, there were about a dozen or so on bicycles, pedaling through the park, along the 3-mile drive (from entrance to the northern area where Fort Clinch Visitor’s Center sits).
Visitor’s Center & Fort Tours
Note the Visitor’s Center (where people pay to tour the historic fortress, circa 1847), remained closed on May 13th (see the signs posted on the doors below.) * UPDATE * — The Visitor’s Center and the historic fortress reopened on Friday, May 15, 2020.
A COVID-19 notice was posted on the bathroom door along the walkway to the jetty (where fishing pier used to be). “Limit public restroom use — return home when possible,” is the first bullet point (see more below).
Fort Clinch State Park opens at 8 am. Note that currently, daily capacity limits will close the gate early (before sundown), if necessary, to prevent overcrowding (following social distancing guidelines).
According to the Florida State Parks’ website, the following information below was updated during the afternoon on Wed., May 13, 2020:
Fort Clinch State Park Limited Visitation
“To protect public health and safety, Florida State Parks campgrounds remain CLOSED through May 20… DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), continues to re-open Florida State Parks for day use as part of Phase one to re-open Florida. As these parks are re-opening, DEP will be taking measures to ensure the protection of staff and the public. During this early phase of re-opening, visitors should expect limited hours, capacity and amenities. Portions of these parks and trails have been identified that can be reopened for day-use with limited risk to visitors and staff. To reduce risk, cash transactions are limited to exact change.”
Check the Florida State Parks’ website for potential updates (since the status of state parks can fluctuate during the continuing Coronavirus pandemic). To call the Fort Clinch State Park ranger station, the phone number is 904-277-7274.