Take a stroll back in time when dogs lazed in the dusty street, men sat on the corner bench and the train pulled into the depot loaded with goods. Sopchoppy, a cozy old Florida community on the southwest edge of Wakulla County reminds visitors of Mayberry and easier times. The GF&A railroad referred to fondly as the “Gopher, Frog & Alligator” ran through Sopchoppy and played a vital part in shaping the character of this town. Almost all of the original buildings, including the old railroad depot, have been restored and many are on the National Register of Historic Places. Most have been repurposed as charming shops, restaurants and businesses. You will want to visit the old Sopchoppy High School and the impressive historic Sopchoppy High School Gymnasium constructed entirely of native limestone by Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor.
Sopchoppy & Smith Creek
Sopchoppy is located on the east side of the picturesque twisting Sopchoppy River, one of Florida’s blackwater streams. In this undisturbed dark river fed by wild swamps and bordered by wild azalea, tupelo and ancient cypress once swam large sturgeon so plentiful they were commercially harvested for their caviar. The river is currently under federal consideration as a designated Wild and Scenic River. The best access and views of the Sopchoppy River can be found at the lovely city park which also offers RV and full camping facilities and a wide range of visitor amenities including a boat launch, fishing pier, playground, basketball court, softball field, picnic facilities, nature trails and a collection of historic buildings.
Surrounded by the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Apalachicola National Forest, Sopchoppy is a Florida Trail “Gateway Community.” The area remains a relatively undisturbed hotspot of biodiversity and haven to enthusiasts in search of kayaking, hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, and nature watching. The Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin’ Festival attracts thousands of visitors every April and the day long Fourth of July Celebration should not be missed. Sopchoppy has become known as the music center of Wakulla County where many local musicians as well as artists work and reside. The Sopchoppy Opry is held the last Saturday of most months and always draws large crowds for an evening of lively entertainment. Enjoy some fun and experience what the locals say, “Sopchoppy and easy living go together.”
If you follow the road that goes through historic Downtown Sopchoppy through to the other side, you will be transported down the Smith Creek Highway to a small community nestled deep in the Apalachicola National Forest and set against the steephead ravines of the Ochlockonee River. Smith Creek settled in the 1850’s is home to an old fish camp community and you can still see some of the original fish camp cabins along the river. The nearby Historic Langston Homestead can be accessed by day hikers from the Florida National Scenic Trail. The expansive wilderness of Smith Creek is the ideal area to explore for wildlife and to see a stunning display of roadside wildflowers and butterflies in the spring and fall.