The essence of primordial Florida still whispers through Bulow Hammock, a ribbon of dark shadowy forest north of Ormond Beach, with a canopy of ancient trees.
East of the flow of traffic on Interstate 95 and west of the sluggish quiet of Bulow Creek, a freshwater outlet just inland from the Atlantic Ocean, it retains a stillness of the ages.
To traverse it, this hike shows off its best features. But it can be challenging, wet and humid and buggy, and there are always snakes to watch out for.
The Bulow Woods Trail is linear, connecting the south edge of Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park with the parking area at the Fairchild Oak in Bulow Creek State Park.
The deep shade of ancient magnolias and oaks and a dense undergrowth of coontie, once a staple food of the native peoples who lived in this hammock, make this a particularly interesting hike.
It can be accomplished as a 13.6 mile round-trip, or by placing a car at either end to walk the distance between.
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Location: Flagler Beach to Ormond Beach
Length: 6.8 miles linear
Trailhead: 29.434900, -81.137983
Address: 3501 Old Kings Rd, Flagler Beach
Restroom: inside the fee area at Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Although the trailhead is outside the park gates, state park hours are 8 AM to sunset. If you park inside the gates at the north end, there is a $4 fee payable at an iron ranger.
Leashed dogs welcome. Bicycles permitted but as this trail floods, it’s very messy to try and off-road between the north trailhead and Cisco Ditch. After that point it’s an easy ride on old roads.
From Interstate 95 exit 278, follow Old Dixie Hwy east for 0.9 mile to Old Kings Rd. Drive north 1.9 miles to the entrance for Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park. Watch for the sign to turn right.
The natural surface entrance road, about a half mile long, is one lane with pulloffs, showing off the beauty of Bulow Hammock. The trailhead is on the right at a large sign just before you reach the park gate and pay station.
The map above also shows alternate access points at Walter Boardman Rd and at the south trailhead in Bulow Creek State Park.
To learn about the first half of this trail, or to make an out-and-back hike from the north end, first follow our details for the Bulow Woods Loop.
It describes the first 3.1 miles of this hike and explains how to make it a 5.2-mile loop back to the north trailhead.
Alternately, you can use the cutoff at 1.5 miles to skip the hike to the creek along the green blazes and head to the Cisco Ditch junction along the yellow blazes. That lops off a mile of hiking.
Cisco Ditch is a dividing point in the hammock, literally. It’s a swiftly flowing canal with clear tannic water, dividing the wild part of the hike from the milder part.
This is where the trails part ways, at 3.1 miles if you hiked out to the creek. Cross a bridge over the ditch, where fossilized seashells gleam with iridescence along the sandy bottom
The trail turns to parallel the creek’s other shore as it broadens into an old forest road. The remainder of the hike primarily sticks to forest roads.
At 3.5 miles, turn right at the T intersection. The trail continues down a broad lane edged on both sides by saw palmettos and shaded by massive live oaks.
Pass under a power line where you can see a stretch of open blue water off to the left in the salt marsh—Bulow Creek.
At the “Boardman Pond” sign, turn right and follow this short spur trail for a close-up look at a brackish inland pond, an excellent birding spot.
Back on the main trail, follow it through a tunnel of hammock to emerge at the park gate at Walter Boardman Lane. Cross this road carefully.
On the far side of the road, follow the high-and-dry forest road through a pine plantation until you reach a fork in the road at 5.1 miles. Keep right.
Reach a T intersection with the sign “Gate B7” to your right. To continue along the main trail to the south terminus of the trail at the Fairchild Oak, turn right.
This forest road crosses a long causeway through a salt marsh. Cross the bridge and continue along the road into the swampy floodplain forest on the other side.
Although a culvert drains it under the roadbed, the stream manages to overflow its banks in places, creating large puddles across the trail.
As the trail climbs away from the marsh, you can see traffic up ahead, through the gate—Old Dixie Highway, at 5.9 miles.
Just before the gate, the trail turns left onto another forest road and climbs up into another old-growth oak hammock.
Under the grand live oaks, pass the side trail to the interpretive Wahlin Trail, a nature trail at the south end of this hike.
It’s only an extra quarter mile if you want to loop down it to walk a boardwalk around a seepage spring above the floodplain.
The linear Bulow Woods Trail ends soon after, reaching the parking area in front of the Fairchild Oak, one of the state’s largest live oak trees.
At this end, the trail is called the Fairchild Oak Hiking Trail on the park map and signage.
See our photos of hiking Bulow Hammock
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