A historic North Florida city along the St. Johns River, Palatka is located just a few miles east of the Florida Trail and a fifteen minute drive from the Ocala National Forest, providing a great gateway to outdoor adventures.
Trails and Parks in Palatka
- Bayard Conservation Area- Bayard Conservation Area preserves an untouched riverfront forest on the St. Johns River. Follow this route through the John P. Hall Nature Preserve to visit the river
- Bear Swamp Trail- Little known except to those who frequent Salt Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest, the Bear Swamp Trail provides a walk into an ancient forest
- Davenport Landing Trail- Deep in the Ocala National Forest, the Davenport Landing Trail leads you on a scenic loop to a historic landing and archaeological site along the Ocklawaha River.
- Dunns Creek State Park- 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.
- Dunns Creek Yellow Trail- Dunns Creek State Park protects sandhills and scrub along a sharp bend in the St. Johns River and is home to the rare Etonia rosemary (Conradina etonia) along its trail system.
- Florida Trail, Buckman Lock to SR 20- 7.3 miles. A rough and swampy connector through timber lands, the Florida Trail between Buckman Lock and SR 20 west of Palatka is an often muddy ramble down old forest roads.
- Florida Trail, Buckman to Rodman Dam- Paralleling a segment of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, the Buckman Lock to Rodman Dam hike on of the Florida Trail sticks to a high berm for most of the 5.3 miles.
- Florida Trail, Delancy to The 88 Store- An immersion in both sandhills and scrub awaits on this 7.4 mile hike along the Florida Trail between Lake Delancy and Lake Kerr, an excellent section for fall wildflowers and wildlife watching
- Florida Trail, Etoniah West- On this 3.5-mile segment of the Florida Trail in Etoniah State Forest, you'll encounter the rare Etonia rosemary and a number of sinkholes in the pine forests and scrub
- Florida Trail, Gold Head Branch- Following the high ground above Devil's Washbasin and Gold Head Ravine, the Florida Trail works its way across Gold Head Branch State Park on a scenic 3.5 mile route
- Florida Trail, Hopkins Prairie to Salt Springs- A six-mile-long prairie, a vast marshland in the middle of the dry Big Scrub, Hopkins Prairie is a beauty spot along which the Florida Trail lingers on this 9.5 mile section.
- Florida Trail, Ocala National Forest- 72.2 miles. Of all of the sections of the Florida Trail statewide, the Ocala National Forest is both the oldest section of the trail and the most compelling for backpackers.
- Florida Trail, Rice Creek- Home of ancient cypress trees and the remains of a 1700s rice plantation, Rice Creek Conservation Area has a fascinating loop trail along the statewide Florida Trail
- Florida Trail, Rodman to Lake Delancy- Providing a fine balance between the Big Scrub habitats and breathtaking old-growth longleaf pines, the Florida Trail from Rodman to Lake Delancy is simply superb.
- Florida Trail, Salt Springs to The 88 Store- Amid a patchwork of scrub ridges and longleaf pine islands, the Florida Trail makes its way northwest of Salt Springs around the vastness of Lake Kerr on this 10.1 mile section
- John’s Landing Trail- Following a series of forest roads through the heart of Welaka State Forest, the John's Landing Trail has several scenic spots along its 4.3-mile loop, from bluffs along the St. Johns River to shimmering lily-covered flatwoods ponds.
- Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park- One of Florida's oldest state parks and notable for its Civilian Conservation Corps architecture, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park offers a lesson in Florida topography.
- Mud Spring Trail- At Mud Spring, mud isn't what you'll see in the gently rounded basin that cradles an underwater garden. This glassy natural pool is the payoff halfway around a 1.7-mile hike that is one of the highlights of Welaka State Forest.
- Palatka-Lake Butler Trail- With a corridor spanning nearly 50 miles through North Florida, the Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail provides paved trail for riders and an unpaved corridor used by the Florida Trail
- Ravine Gardens Hiking Trails- While the hiking loop at Ravine Gardens State Park is just 2.2 miles long, it’s a challenging and fun hike that clings to ravine slopes while showcasing bubbling springs and tunnels of azaleas, plus two picturesque suspension bridges.
- Ravine Gardens State Park- Known best for its hillsides of blooming azaleas each February, Ravine Gardens State Park melds historic planted public gardens with the intriguing setting of a deep steephead ravine above the St. Johns River in Palatka.
- Ridge and Ravine Trails- A beauty spot with extreme elevation changes, the ravine at Gold Head Branch State Park is best explored along the Ridge and Ravine Trails that guide you into and around the bottom of the ravine
- Salt Springs Loop- An easy walk of 2 miles, the Salt Springs Loop in the Ocala National Forest is a popular hike, since it leads to an observation platform on Salt Springs Run.
- Tanglewyld Nature Park- Perched on a bluff above the St. Johns River north of Palatka, Tanglewyld Nature Park is a patch of public land along the horseshoe bend that River Road follows through Bostwick.
- Welaka State Forest- Protecting more than four miles of deeply forested waterfront on the St. Johns River across Little Lake George from the Ocala National Forest, Welaka State Forest offers both natural beauty and a deep subtext of cultural history.
- William Bartram St. Johns River Loop- Discover the beauty of Welaka State Forest on a 5 mile footpath that winds along ecotones and hugs the bluffs of the St. Johns River to showcase the natural wonders that botanist William Bartram documented in 1774.
- OGT Palatka Visitor Center closed Nov 2008- In a related story, I found out this weekend that the Office of Greenways and Trails quietly closed their Visitor Center at Buckman Lock for budget savings. This is the northernmost of the two visitor centers they operate, and marks the northern extent of the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway. In addition to casual visitors […]
Nearby: Bunnell, Gainesville, Ocala, Palm Coast, Salt Springs, St. Augustine