Haw Creek Preserve is a place to enjoy spectacular fall colors, a dense forest canopy, and an array of spring and fall wildflowers.
The creek is a winding blackwater stream that slowly flows towards Crescent Lake from the marshlands of Flagler County.
Protecting nearly a thousand acres, this county preserve offers an easy boardwalk trail set well above the floodplain.
The trailhead also serves as a literal launch point for Haw Creek Preserve State Park from Russell Landing.
The state park protects the other side of the creek and can only be explored by canoe or kayak.
In addition to the boat ramp, there are picnic tables and grills, restrooms on the high ground, and a primitive camping area at the far end of the boardwalk.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 1.3 mile round-trip
Address: 2007 CR 2007, Bunnell
Restroom: Yes, on high ground
Land manager: Flagler County
Day use only unless camping. Leashed pets permitted.
Call ahead for primitive camping (nonprofit and youth groups only) or for picnic pavilion rental.
From the intersection of SR 100 and US 1 in Bunnell, drive west on SR 100 for 7.5 miles to SR 305. Turn left. Drive south on SR 305 for 4.1 miles until you reach CR 2006. Turn right. After 1 mile, turn left on CR 2007, a dirt road, at the large “Russell Landing” sign. Drive 2.2 miles, passing the Pellicer Community Center. The road enters Haw Creek Preserve and ends at a parking area.
Starting near the Russell Landing boat ramp, the boardwalk quickly lifts you up above the forest floor for an immersion into the floodplain forest of Haw Creek.
It is dense with cabbage palms and sweetgum, hickory and cypresses. Cardinal wild pine grows in profusion along the trunks of pond cypress.
At the first turnoff, turn right. You arrive at a platform along the creek, where a bench provides a peaceful place to sit and look over the placid dark water.
The stands of cypress on the far side are thickly blanketed in bromeliads. Sweetgum leaves reflect in the inky flow.
Returning to the main boardwalk, turn right. Dappled shadows of cabbage palm fronds lie across the trunks of live oaks.
Light green goldfoot ferns and long dark green streamers of shoelace fern dangle below the fronds of a cabbage palm as you come up to the next turnoff.
Turn right and walk down to the platform, passing an array of colorful sweetgum and red maple reflected in a shallow swamp.
The platform overlooks a bend in Haw Creek, where young pond cypresses crowd the curve.
In the cove to the left, largemouth bass jump for flies, leaving trails of bubbles as they sink to the bottom.
Head back to the main boardwalk and turn right. It crosses over a channel that shows signs of occasionally flooding down into the creek.
Follow the next boardwalk to the right for another look at Haw Creek from a broad overlook which is excellent for birding, especially for swallow-tailed kites.
Back on the main boardwalk, turn right to continue. Bluejack oaks arch over the trail, providing a canopy for the younger cabbage palms, many with streamers of shoelace fern.
At the next side trail, turn right and walk down to the platform, the last one along the creek.
Looking out over the broad expanse of water, you see tiny islands upstream, covered in pennywort and elephant ears.
These provide hiding places for hooded mergansers and limpkins. Returning back to the main trail, turn right.
The boardwalk starts to turn left, away from the creek, into the shadows of ancient live oaks.
In spring, a dense bed of blue flag irises flanks the boardwalk with its purple blooms.
As the boardwalk ends, it drops you out into a large open field, with a building on the far side.
This is the group campsite, available to backpackers by permit.
Returning along the boardwalk to the parking area, savor the deep shade from the live oaks and peer up into their branches to spy orchids and bromeliads.
You have the option of taking any of the side trails back to the creek again, or you can simply stay along the main boardwalk for a 1.3-mile round-trip.
Learn more about Haw Creek Preserve State Park
See our photos of Haw Creek Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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Gentle loop trails showcase wild spaces and cultivated grounds at Princess Place Preserve, an 1880s homestead on Pellicer Creek with a campground on site.