Editor’s note: Thanks to Tom Lang for submitting this trip route for hiking an all-day loop in Bronson State Forest starting from the Joshua Creek trailhead.
I started at 8AM, 43 degrees out and a clear blue sky. Started from the Joshua Creek trailhead on the blue connector trail to the Florida Trail. From there, I headed southeast (turn right on the Florida Trail) and walked 2.5 hours to the intersection of the FT and White Trail. This section is a mix of upland pine, oak hammock and cypress stands. The trail through the oaks and cypress was wet and squishy at best with intermittent puddles (1 to 3 inches) and the cypress and some oak hammocks has standing water (2 to 4 inches). Mostly bushwhacking navigable although some areas were difficult. The trail is very well blazed. It crosses Christmas Creek in this area, where the water runs with a clean tannic color. Startled several white-tail deer and saw a remarkable amount of animal tracks.
The intersection of the White Trail and the Florida Trail has a wooden stile with steps over a barbed wire fence with the final approach in standing water. Need to detour around it…be careful while doing so to not lose site of next blazed tree. When water is present, there is no visible footpath on the ground so you need to navigate tree to tree via the blazes.
From here we headed northeast onto the White Trail (turn left on the White Trail) in order to connect back to FT via a blue-blazed connector. It took more than 2 hours plus on the White Trail and this was the most difficult part of the hike. The cypress stands had standing water 2 to 4 inches deep; going was very slow to navigate around the deep parts. Use caution on this part: the white blazes sometimes blend with white spots on trees and weaving back and forth to bypass deep water can get you off track and get you turned around (lost). We posted one of us at a blaze and the other bushwhacked a less wet path while finding next blaze that way both of us were never separated from site of a blaze. (Editor’s note: The St. Johns River is high right now and these trails are in the river floodplain)
We finally made it to the intersection of the White Trail and the blue connector. Great spot, high and dry for overnight, a wide open oak hammock with an unmarked creek and a bridge over it; the White Trail continues to the Econ. We chilled in the sun and had some lunch.
Next we hit the blue trail connector back to the Florida Trail and headed south (turn left) and back to the trailhead were we started. This was the easiest part of our day, 2 hours long, crossing two creeks, Bunscombe and Joshua One spot we could not navigate around so we decided to take our boots off and wade through 25 yards of water 5 inches deep plus, higher than our boots. No big deal: it was standing rain water, clear, cold and hard non-muck bottom. Once we cleared it we booted up and finished the hike. It was a great day, a great but challenging trail. I highly recommend over-ankle boots treated with silicon to waterproof. That worked great for us. At the end of the hike, our socks had just slight dampness. Awesome considering what we trekked through. I recommend this day hike. Bring a friend! There is no cell service on the trail.
See the trail map I attached and look at it while you read through my description. Hope this helps with an update on this all day hike.