Tied together with connector trails to the trailheads at each end, this segment of the Florida Trail is one of its more rugged pieces along the Suwannee River, providing a real workout.
Along the way, backpackers can find some tent spots with a view, and photographers will delight at the colors and textures along the river and its tributaries.
A highlight is the climb up Devil’s Mountain and the view from the top. At 134 feet, this is not the high point of the Florida Trail, but it IS the highest elevation of the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River.
Length: 7.8 miles
Trailhead: 30.32531, -82.739273
Fees / Permits: none
Restroom: at the ballfield the trail passes
Land Manager: Suwannee River Water Management District
IMPORTANT: Camping is NOT permitted at the trailheads
Leashed dogs welcome. However, ticks can be a serious problem on any hike along the Suwannee River. Protect yourself and your dog with appropriate repellents.
You will greatly appreciate having two hiking poles with you to assist in creek crossings and for climbs in and out of the ravines along this section, some of which can be extremely slippery when wet.
Always check river levels before hiking the Florida Trail along the Suwannee River. At flood stage, the river can flow over the trail and make hiking dangerous.
The ending point is Suwannee Springs off US 129 north of Interstate 10 at Live Oak. Limited parking is possible within sight of the old US 129 bridge on the old highway, but ample parking is available at Suwannee Springs itself, where a blue-blazed trail leads from the old bridge down to the spring. There is usually a portable toilet at this trailhead.
For the starting point, drive north from Suwannee Springs along US 129 and turn right on CR 132, the first paved road to the right after the river. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto CR 25A. Continue along it to where it crosses Camp Branch on a highway bridge and goes around a curve within sight of the weigh station on I-75. Look for a narrow two-track road on the right with a small sign. It leads down to the parking area.
For a day hike, it’s an easy shuttle between the two trailheads, which are about 15 minutes apart by car.
If your logistics only allow you to do an out-and-back hike, we recommending hiking out along this section from Suwannee Springs to the top of Devil’s Mountain and returning from there for an 8.2-mile round-trip.
Follow the white-blazed Camp Branch Trail downhill from the trailhead. There are two access points to the Florida Trail along it.
To add the Disappearing Creek Loop to this hike, take the right fork at 0.7 mile, staying with the white blazes.
Disappearing Creek Loop
Tack on an extra half mile to follow this blue-blazed side loop before reaching the Florida Trail at a different access point along the river.
Otherwise, make a left onto a blue-blazed trail after 0.7 mile. It leads directly to the Florida Trail at a T, where you make a right.
Climbing away from the river, the trail works its way out to the bluffs, offering a few views through the forest. At the junction where the Disappearing Creek Trail connection, continue along the orange blazes down a corridor of saw palmetto.
Beyond Crooked Branch Ranch and the Suwannee River Farms campsite, you start the steep climb up Devil’s Mountain. Avoid brushing against the spiny stems of the devil’s walkingsticks that give this hill its name.
Hiking sticks come in handy on the slippery spots, especially the mud surrounding Greasy Creek. Grab a summit photo at the elevation marker and start your way down the other side, which isn’t as steep.
Rather repeatedly, you’ll climb in and out of tributaries that have formed small ravines as they flow to the Suwannee River. There are no bridges, but a few logs provide assistance.
Reaching the shoreline of the Suwannee, walk across a sandy bluff before re-entering the bluff forest. At 4.2 miles, the trail makes a sharp turn at a horseshoe bend, the river in front of and in back of you.
Another broad beach is a half mile later. Here, the trail clings to the sharply sloped sand as sidehill.
Turning away from the river to cross a tributary, the trail makes its way back to the high bluffs, offering great views.
Several flat spots provide potential campsites for a tent or two.
At a sharp bend, the trail leaves the river and stays inside one of its side channels. Pop out under a power line and pass another campsite with a river view.
At the old concrete bridge, scramble up the worn path. The blue-blazed trail across it leads to the trailhead at Suwannee Springs, a historic spring and swimming area along the river.
NORTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Suwannee Springs to Holton Creek
SOUTHBOUND: Florida Trail, Swift Creek
Other nearby trails and parks in the area
4.7 miles. Roly-poly and rugged, the Florida Trail across Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park showcases the beauty of the Suwannee River from its bluffs.
The Big Oak Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in North Florida. Much of the hiking parallels the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers, which meet here at a confluence.
Perched on the bluffs at the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, Suwannee River State Park is one of those don’t-miss Florida outdoors experiences, with two ghost towns, Civil War battlements that once protected a strategic railroad bridge, and the ruins of a former governor’s riverfront mansion.