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Chapter News

Our Chapter bylaws require that we hold an annual business meeting.  This was historically done in the Fall, but since we have moved to virtual meetings, in compliance with the FTA Covid-19 recommendations, we haven’t scheduled one.  Before I became a Chapter Officer, I knew virtually nothing about our Chapter finances.  As a professional accountant, this bothered me somewhat, and I vowed that I would familiarize myself with the business side of the FTA and force feed pertinent information to you members.  So here we go….
Here is the annual Operating Statement for the Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. 
Cash Balance, July 1, 2020               $4,431.65
Cash Received
                Donations                                 $400.00
                FTA Dues Rebates                    260.00
                FTA Reimbursements               75.06
                Interest Earned                               .50
          Total Cash Receipts                  $735.56
Cash Spent
                Trail Maintenance                      $299.29
                Share of Meetup App Cost           65.96
                Printing of Chapter flyer              132.00    
          Total Cash Disbursements           $497.25
Cash Balance, June 30, 2021        $ 4,669.96
Things you need to know about this financial statement:
  1. Donations are just that – donations that are made directly to our Chapter for use by our Chapter.   Donations that are submitted to the FTA Home Office in Gainesville are deposited into their bank account and accounted for as their donations.
  2. FTA Dues Rebates – The local FTA Chapters receive $5 from every NEW membership that is processed by the Gainesville Office for their Chapter.  This money is forwarded to us and recorded as FTA Dues Reimbursements.  We do not get any money from Gainesville for membership renewals.
  3. FTA Reimbursements – When we do trail maintenance and incur costs, such as gasoline for our mowers, we request reimbursements of those costs from the Gainesville office.
  4. Trail Maintenance Costs – as discussed in #3 above, we incur costs when we do trail maintenance.  We reimburse our members who incurred the costs, and then request reimbursements from Gainesville.  The difference between costs that we incurred and costs reimbursed by Gainesville resulted from timing differences – there was a reimbursement request in transit to Gainesville on June 30.  We only get reimbursed for costs associated with maintenance of the Florida National Scenic Trail.  Maintenance costs association with other trails that we have adopted is not reimbursable.
  5. Meetup App Costs –We share a Meetup account with the Panama City Chapter and split the costs 50/50.
  6. Printing – We updated our Chapter Flyer last year to correct the mailing address of the Gainesville Office for membership forms.  These pamphlets are used in our public outreach activities.
  7. Overall, our Cash balance increased last year. This was primarily because we downsized our operations when Covid-19 hit.  We basically didn’t do much last year, so we didn’t spend much money.  This was the second straight year that we spent less than we took in, and operated at a surplus.  When I first took over as the Chapter Chair, we had received a large donation and were spending much more money than we made.  I was alarmed that we might go broke, and we  cut back on our spending.  Those actions, coupled with a banner donation year in 2020, have us back on sound financial ground.
  8. None of this money belongs to us!  We are an agent of the Florida Trail Association that operates out of their office in Gainesville, FL.  We only exist because they allow us to exist and to do their work locally.  Everything that we own would go back to them if we ceased to exist.  We report our operations and assets to the FTA on a quarterly basis,  and they include that information into their financial reports.
In July, the Chapter Officers adopted a 2021-22 FY Budget that pretty much mirrors what we did last year after including the upcoming Ididahike.  We are planning on spending about $1,500 more than we will take in, but we have sufficient cash in the bank to cover it.  If you’d like to review the budget  in detail, just let me know.
In March 2022, our Chapter will elect the following new officers:
                Membership Director
                Activity Coordinator

If you are interested in serving in any of these positions, or if you have questions about their duties, please contact any of the current officers.  If you would like to serve on the Nominating Committee for this election, please let one of the officers know that as well.
That’s all I have for you.  You have now been briefed on our finances and upcoming business activities.  If you have any questions, just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.  In the meantime, the weather is getting pretty wonderful, so it’s time to get outside and enjoy the Fall season.  I’ll see you on the trail….. Elwood McElhaney
On the morning of October 19, 2021, 16 members of the Apalachee Chapter of the FTA went hiking in the North Georgia Mountains.  They started just outside of Dawsonville, Georgia,  at the Amicalola Falls State Park,  and hiked 5 miles up the hill to the Len Foote Hike  Inn, where they toured the facilities, ate dinner and spent the night.  After breakfast the next morning, the group embarked on another hike in the general direction of Springer Mountain, the Southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  While most of the group opted for a leisurely 3 mile hike in the hills that morning, Chapter members Charlie Hood, Betty Steffens, Dawn and John Griffin, Ruth Jones and Gail Nelson made it all the way to Springer Mountain, a strenuous 8 mile round trip.  After another meal and night of rest at the Inn, the group hiked back down the mountain on the morning of October 21, 2021 to complete the adventure.   A splendid time was had by all. 

The Len Foote Hike Inn has donated a one night stay at their Inn for the IDIDAHIKE 2022 Silent Auction!
Check out the Len Foote Hike Inn at
Awesome group of hard working folks recently conducted trail maintenance within the historic Port Leon area of the Florida National Scenic Trail within the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge. This is one of the spectacular trails we plan to offer participants for the IDIDAHIKE event.  The damaged bridge (pictured) is proposed to be repaired before the end of February.  This particular section of the trail is within a wilderness area and is all about the history of the Big Bend of Florida.  It begins in the Gateway Community of St Marks Township. The town itself is notable for its history dating to the Spanish occupation. Hikers will first cross the St Marks River by boat transport. The remains of the old tram railroad bridge can be seen on either side of the river. The hike continues along the berm that once held the railway. Just before the crossing of the Port Leon Creek the main trail deviates from the original trail-bed into the forest. At the main junction with the Port Leon Road a blue blazed trail leads to the old townsite of Port Leon. At its height, the docks of this town were a major trading area. 
In lieu of our regular Holiday Party, in this Covid-dominated year, we will continue with our virtual chapter meeting series.   When attending, we encourage everyone to add their own holiday touch to the meeting. Perhaps a favorite holiday sweater or hat, perhaps a holiday themed zoom virtual background for your computer, or some other holiday touch.   After our program and chapter business, we’ll open the discussion floor for suggestions for what you believe to be the best holiday hike and why you think so.

Topic: Hiking in the Ecologically Restored Sandhills Lakes Region of the Florida Panhandle
Have you ever heard about the Sand Hills Lakes region of the Panhandle with its unique vegetation, rolling sugar sand hills and crystal clear lakes?  Did you ever hike through a burned landscape, and not REALLY know what went on and why it should matter to you? 
December’s presentations, by one of our chapter members, Joe Sullivan, is about a Sand Hills Lakes restoration project. It occurred on a NWF Water Management District property north of Panama City. Not only will we learn about the restoration but what it means for the future hiking experience.   And we’ll be visiting a Water Management District property, said to be suitable for taking a hike
Our Presenter, Joe Sullivan, is a biologist and soil scientist currently working with US DOT – Federal Highways Administration. Joe has worked on wildlife and ecological surveys and delineations for over 20 years. Currently he is working through the Florida Master Naturalist Program to further develop environmental education skills.
IDidAHike 2022 
Planning has been ongoing virtually since last summer and its going to be a wonderful event thanks to the great team of volunteers.  In addition, volunteers have been busy with maintenance getting the trails in good condition.  Event registration is expected to be ready by mid December, which will include an opportunity to order an event t-shirt and pre-register for the hikes. Interested in helping please contact: Andrea Fenn and Dawn Griffin, 2022 IDIDAHIKE Co-Coordinators, Apalachee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association (Email: More information can be viewed at:
4th Annual "Grandma Gatewood" Commemorative hike was held on October 30 at Lake Talquin State Forest (Bear Creek Tract). Emma Gatewood/"Grandma Gatewood" was a grandmother who enjoyed adventure and hiked the Appalachian Trail 3 times—the 1st time at the age of 67. Ben Montgomery wrote a very good book “Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail." Ben has kindly donated a signed copy of his book for the IDIDAHIKE Silent Auction!

Please read the GUIDELINES FOR OUTING PARTICIPANTS before signing up for an activity. This will make for a better outing experience. COVID Resources.


DEC 4 SAT 8:45 AM – Challenge Hike – Torreya State Park
Enjoy the toughest challenge this area has to offer. Join me for a 9 and 1/2-mile challenge hike with steep inclines and declines at Torreya State Park. This is a very strenuous hike, so come prepared. You may have to shimmy over or under fallen trees. This is a great opportunity to motivate yourself for the mountainous hikes on the AT and Camino. We’ll take the main route from the parking lot and switch over to the challenge loop and then return. We will rest for 5-10 minutes, as needed. This is an all-day hike.
$3 park entrance fee. Bring lots of water (I recommend 2 gallons in a backpack), lunch, some snacks, wear comfortable shoes, and apply bug repellent and sunscreen as needed. Prepare for potential ticks and chiggers. Meet for the hike in the Torreya State Park main parking lot (you will see several picnic benches and a concrete building with restrooms). We’ll congregate at 9:00am for sign-in and instructions, and then start the hike at 9:15 am sharp. Carpool optional for those who feel safe riding together – meet at the NW Home Depot (1490 Capital Circle NW) parking lot at 7:45 am and leave promptly at 8:00am. Please let me know in the comments below if you are planning to join the carpool/convoy. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the duration of the hike. Dogs on a leash are welcome. Covid precaution of 6’ social distancing observed. Open to the public, though we encourage you to become a FTA member: Check our Meetup site for dates, meeting locations, and any last-minute announcements before starting out. Contact: Courtnay Micots (850) 300-0399, or
DEC 2 & 16 THURS 9:30 AM – Florida National Scenic Trail Maintenance - Lop, mow, blaze and clear the Florida National Scenic Trail in the eastern section of the Apalachicola National Forest or in the St Marks NWR. Bring lunch, snacks, insect repellent, rainwear, sun protection, first aid kit and plenty of water. Tools and safety equipment provided.  Contact: Dawn Griffin (850) 509-6103 / or Mike Tucker (850) 545-3489 /
DEC 3 FRI 5:45 PM – Holiday Lights Walk – Old Town & Lafayette Park – FTA Members Only - Enjoy a leisurely walk through the Old Town and Lafayette Park neighborhoods to view the holiday lights. Join us for a 3 and ½ to 4-mile walk. Please, no dogs. Children must be accompanied by their legal guardian/parent at all times. Bring a flashlight or headlamp and water, wear comfortable shoes, and apply bug repellent as needed. Meet in the double driveway of 417 Terrace Street, park on the streets. We start the hike at 6:00 pm or when it starts to get dark. Covid precaution of 6’ social distancing observed. Open to FTA members only (Meetup is not the same as a paid FTA membership). Sign up at Check our Meetup site for dates, meeting locations, and any last-minute announcements before starting out. Contact: Courtnay Micots (850) 300-0399, or Limit 20 people.
DEC 6 MON 5:15 PM – A Walk in the Woods – Lafayette Heritage Trail Park (Piney Z) (M/S) - A Walk in the Woods is beneficial to one's mental and physical health. Join us in a moderate to strenuous walk through the woods at your length (3.5 miles+ at 3-4 miles/hour is common). We rest for a few minutes at the midway point. Dogs on a leash are welcome. Bring lots of water, wear comfortable shoes, and apply bug repellent and sunscreen as needed. Meet near the restrooms. We start the hike at 5:30 pm sharp. Covid precaution of 6’ social distancing observed. Open to the public, though we encourage you to become an FTA member: Check our Meetup site for dates, meeting locations, and any last-minute announcements before starting out. Contact: Courtnay Micots (850) 300-0399, or
DEC 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 WED 9:15 AM – Heart & Sole Urban Walk - Miccosukee Greenway, Crump Road Trailhead  - FTA Members Only.  (NP/M-S) (9:15 -12:30 PM).  Many blisters ago we started these weekly urban walks - now we are chafing the dream, witnessing the fitness, and are walking sole mates celebrating our 11th Year! Come at 9:15 am and be ready to hike a 4 – 6-mile loop (2 -3 miles in and back) at 9:30 AM sharp. Bring snack if needed, water, sunscreen, bug spray and hat and wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes. Come hydrated. Bring a chair/beverage for post hike cool down and visitation. We will attempt to maintain a pace of 3.0 - 3.5 mph. Location: Miccosukee Greenway, Crump Road Trailhead (4996 Crump Rd, Tallahassee) YOU MUST SIGN UP ON THIS ACTIVITY’S PAGE ON MEETUP.COM TO RECEIVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, DIRECTIONS, AND UPDATES. Contact: Dawn Griffin (850) 509-6103,
DEC 14 TUES 7:00 PM - Virtual Chapter Meeting/Program - Hiking in the Ecologically Restored Sandhills Lakes Region of the Florida Panhandle. (see above details)
Dec 11 & 18 SAT 5:15 PM (P/M)- Holiday Lights Winter Urban Night Hike  3.5 to 4-mi. walks in downtown Tallahassee to enjoy the seasonal lights! Meet at Fla. D.O.T. Credit Union parking lot (640 E Gaines St., next to Cascades Park at corner of Suwannee St. / Myers Park Dr). Wear comfortable walking shoes and light-colored clothes. We will attempt to maintain a steady pace given the downtown walkways. Come at 5:15 pm and be ready to start at 5:30 pm SHARP. Dec 18 is a full moon!  Bring flashlight/headlamp. Contact: Dawn Griffin (850) 509-6103
DEC 15 WED 7:00 PM - Virtual Chapter Activity Planning Meeting - If you are a current FTA activity leader or are interested in becoming one, please join us for a Zoom meeting to plan and discuss our events for the first part of next year. If you are unable to attend but would like to lead an activity during the months of January - March, please submit your activity proposal(s) to Shellie at prior to this meeting.
DEC 26 SUN 10:00 AM – St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, St. Marks, FL - Join us for a 5-mile hike along a section of the Florida National Scenic Trail through St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.  Walk off those holiday desserts while you enjoy magnificent watery vistas stretching to the horizon, abundant salt marshes teeming with alligators and other wildlife and the congenial company of friends.  There's no better way to wind down the holiday.  We will meet at the SMNWR Park headquarters parking lot and depart sharply at 10:00. Bring snack if needed, water, sunscreen, bug spray and hat and wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes. Come hydrated. Contact Gwen Beatty by phone only at 850 545-0531 to sign up. No dogs please.
DEC 31 FRI 10:00 AM - Holiday Hike at Phipps Park - Keep the tradition alive! Join us for the 27th Annual Phipps Park Holiday Hike. We will hike all 7 miles of the Florida Trail in the Park. For those wishing a shorter hike, several bail out points are possible. Lunch at the Oak Hammock. Children and pets on leash are welcome. Bring snack if needed, water, sunscreen, bug spray and hat and wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes. Come hydrated. YOU MUST SIGN UP ON MEETUP.COM TO RECEIVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, DIRECTIONS, AND UPDATES. Contact: Dawn Brown (850) 545-0351



CHAIR:  Elwood McElhaney
VICE-CHAIR:   Dawn Griffin
TREASURER: James Kimbrel
ACTIVITIES: Shellie Johnson
MEMBERSHIP:  Debbie Grant
PROGRAMS: Howard Pardue
TRAILS: Kent Wimmer 


FNST: ANF WEST -  Al Ingle (850) 509-1162
FNST: ANF EAST -  Richard Graham (850) 878-3616
FNST: ST. MARKS - Dale Allen (850) 656-8050
FNST: AUCILLA  -   Need Volunteer(s)
FT. BRADEN TRACT -   Howard Pardue (850) 386-1494
ELINOR KLAPP-PHIPPS PARK - Dawn Brown (850) 668-0091
TORREYA STATE PARK - Need Volunteer(s)



Your membership in the Florida Trail Association helps make our activities open and accessible to everyone. If you are a member, thank you! If you are not a member, please consider making a donation to the FTA at outings or meetings that you attend. Make an online donation or join the FTA today by clicking one of the buttons below.
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Our Mission: The Florida Trail Association builds, maintains, protects, and promotes the unique Florida National Scenic Trail (Florida Trail), along with a network of hiking trails throughout the state of Florida. Together with our partners, the Association provides opportunities for the public to contribute to meaningful volunteer work, engage in outdoor recreation, and participate in environmental education.   Serving Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla Counties.
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