If you’ve ever hiked along or near the St Johns River off SR 46 between Sanford and Mims, you know the landscapes are flat. Sometimes the braided river channels through this chain of lakes may have just enough elevation for an oak hammock, limbs gracefully arched over the marshy shallows. Sometimes the floodplain is a field of waving grasses punctuated with tall cabbage palms, picturesque but wet.
Thus it was quite the surprise today to see the St Johns in this region from a new perspective – from atop Hickory Bluff. Namesake of this Volusia County preserve several miles east of SR 415 in Osteen off Osteen-Mayville Road, the bluff stands a good 20 feet above the river and is not obviously a midden, as most of the river’s bluffs are.
Primarily an uplands of pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods and scrub, the preserve offers gorgeous views of the river – and a place you can walk to the shore, reminiscent of views of the upper Myakka River, about a half mile in on the Blue Trail. The perimeter hike is a 1.6 mile loop. We saw deer, and any hike with deer running by always makes my day.