An aquatic freshwater wilderness along the eastern rim of Crescent Lake, Haw Creek Preserve State Park provides an immersion in haunting floodplain forest landscapes.
The park protects more than 3,000 acres of largely floodplain forest, with Haw Creek and its tributaries major feeder streams to nourish the massive lake.
Access is via a put-in at Russell Landing in Haw Creek Preserve, a thousand-acre Flagler County preserve to the west of Bunnell.
While the county preserve has a picnic pavilion, restrooms, and boardwalk at its trailhead, once you slip into the waters of Haw Creek you leave all amenities behind.
Resources for exploring the area
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Trailhead: 29.3949297, -81.382496
Address: 2007 CR 2007, Bunnell
Restroom: Yes, at Russell Landing
Land manager: Florida State Parks (Tomoka State Park)
Day use access only. Pets permitted but not recommended due to lack of dry land and alligator population.
Primitive camping (nonprofit and youth groups only) and picnic pavilion rentals are available at Haw Creek Preserve, the launch point for this state park.
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 at Russell Landing.
Exploring the Park
Haw Creek Preserve (the county park) offers a beautiful boardwalk with observation decks facing the creek and the state park.
However, to visit the state park itself means paddling. The public put-in is at Russell Landing, within sight of the boardwalk.
Turning left will let you paddle along the shoreline where the boardwalk affords observation decks.
Upstream, the route is very lush and overhung with live oaks draped in bromeliads. Shallow coves may have alligators sunning.
Downstream, however, is the route to Crescent Lake. The waterway twists and winds gently, widening briefly a mile and a quarter west of Russell Landing.
The canopy is largely open along the downstream paddle.
Roughly 3.6 miles downstream, the creek spills into the outflow of Dead Lake towards Crescent Lake.
Green Bay is to the left. Dead Lake, which has a private fish camp 1.8 miles along its eastern shore at its north end, is to the right.
Most paddlers use this junction as a turnaround point, as both lakes have wide open waters edged with swamp forest.
Boaters may wish to continue on into Dead Lake or Crescent Lake for sightseeing and fishing.
Six miles by water from Russell Landing, Green Bay opens to the main body of Crescent Lake.
It is one of the largest lakes in the region and usually quite windswept. Crescent City lies on its west shore, its main boat ramp roughly 11 miles from Russell Landing.
Learn more about Haw Creek Preserve (Flagler County Park)
See our photos of Haw Creek Preserve State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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.
Walking along a sand road crunching oak leaves underfoot like cornflakes, you’d hardly believe Dunns Creek State Park is along a bend in the St. Johns River. But it’s easy to miss the state’s biggest river when you have 6,200 acres to roam.
Gentle loop trails showcase wild spaces and cultivated grounds at Princess Place Preserve, an 1880s homestead on Pellicer Creek with a campground on site.