Recently re-imagined to showcase the beauty of the St. Johns River, Palatka Riverfront Park offers a quarter-mile riverfront walk with panoramic views.
Address: 100 Memorial Pkwy, Palatka, FL 32177
Restrooms: Yes, at the marina and the St. Johns River Center
Land manager: Putnam County
Open 24 hours. Dogs must be leashed.
From SR 19, follow SR 100 east to where it merges with US 17. Continue south along US 17 through downtown Palatka, making the final right turn off US 17 just before the bridge over the St. Johns River, onto First Street. Parallel parking is available along First Street, or continue down past the Hampton Inn and the riverfront playground to the large parking lots by the marina.
As we’ve watched the waterfront of downtown Palatka evolve over the decades, we have to say that it’s never looked better. A great amount of thought went into rebuilding this part of the city – anchored on J.C. Godwin Park and its marina – to showcase the outstanding view of the river. From this vantage point, the St. Johns is cradled by shorelines dense with cypress trees.
Much of the planning behind the park rests with inspiration from William Bartram. It anchors the Bartram Trail in Putnam County, with the prominent St. Johns River Center at the north end of the park serving as the trail’s official welcome center. Across the street from the River Center, walk down the park paths to an observation deck that looks out towards the Old Memorial Bridge across the St. Johns.
That bridge now serves as a fishing pier. But near where bridge and park meet, you’ll find Bartram Trail Marker 4 along the shore, enticing paddlers to stop and take a look at Palatka, or to slip their boats in here at the soft launch.
From here, a riverwalk meanders south against the river’s northward flow. Benches and observation stops extend for a quarter mile along the waterfront, passing a new playground where Bartram – and nature – are the focal points. It includes a splash pad.
The pathway ends at a new building at the marina, where a showy sculpture echoes one of John Bartram’s illustrations from his journey along the St. Johns River in 1774.
Learn more about the St. Johns River at these nearby stops on the Bartram Trail in Putnam County.
- Palatka Water Works- On the grounds of the Water Works Environmental Education Center, explore the historic Palatka Water Works and a short interpretive trail dedicated to William Bartram's travels as Puc Puggy, the Flower Hunter.
- 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.
- St. Johns River Center- A destination for environmental education with a dash of regional history, the St. Johns River Center in downtown Palatka tells the story of Florida's longest and most storied river.