Dunns Creek State Park protects sandhills and scrub along a sharp bend in a major tributary of the St. Johns River.
The park is home to at least eight healthy populations of rare Etonia rosemary (Conradina etonia), the only other occurrence on public land outside Etoniah Creek State Forest, and includes a steephead ravine among its habitats.
While the main entrance to the park lies a couple miles east of US 17 along Cisco Rd, the prominent Blue Pond picnic area along the highway north of Pomona Park is the starting point for a 3.3-mile trail system.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Pomona Park
Length: 3.3 miles loop and spur
Trailhead: 29.520800, -81.625200
Fees: $4-5 per vehicle
Restroom: Vault toilets at picnic areas
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed pets welcome. Trails is multi-use.
Fat tires are recommended for tackling soft sand.
From Interstate 95, take the Flagler Beach / Bunnell exit for SR 100. Drive west on SR 100 for 28.8 miles, passing through Bunnell, to where it meets US 17 in San Mateo. Follow US 17 south for 9.2 miles, crossing Dunns Creek en route on a high bridge. The Blue Pond entrance to Dunns Creek State Park is on the east side of the highway.
Starting from the kiosk at the picnic area, the Blue Pond Trail begins with yellow blazes. Follow the blazes to traverse a hardwood forest that intersects patches of high, dry scrub.
Reaching each forest road junction, stick with the blazed path. The sand becomes very soft underfoot after half a mile.
The yellow-blazed trail divides into a lengthwise loop. Keep right for nicely framed views of a prairie to the south.
At a mile, you reach a T intersection with a quarter-mile red-blazed spur that ends around the far side of Blue Pond.
Turn right to take the spur out and around Blue Pond, returning to this trail junction at 1.5 miles.
Continue straight ahead a tenth of a mile to the next trail junction, which is the next decision point.
The yellow cross trail straight ahead reaches a T with the outer loop. Turning left, complete a 2.5 mile hike when you reach the picnic area.
For a longer hike through scrub and sandhills, turn right to stay with the outer loop. This results in a 3.3 mile hike.
See our photos from Dunns Creek State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Protecting more than four miles of deeply forested waterfront on the St. Johns River, Welaka State Forest provides a glimpse at a Florida that botanists John and William Bartram saw on their 1700s expeditions.
A stop along the Bartram Trail, the Beecher Run Nature Trail at Welaka National Fish Hatchery provides a walk beneath ancient pines along the edge of the hatchery ponds, which are fed by historic Beecher Spring.
With hiking in scrubby flatwoods and sandhills above forested slopes draining to Murphy Creek, as well as on Murphy Island in the St. Johns River, this water management preserve provides two places to explore.