Protecting more than 3,300 acres of the Deep Creek watershed northeast of Deltona, Palm Bluff Conservation Area was once a working cattle ranch.
Across the longest loops in the preserve, free-range cattle still roam through an agreement with local landowners.
Deep Creek is a tributary of the St. Johns River. These lowlands are naturally very swampy with many bayheads, floodplain forests, and cypress domes standing in the open prairies.
Three different routes provide three different lengths for hikes.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 10.3 miles in three loops
Address: 1275 SR 415, Osteen
Land manager: St. Johns River Water Management District
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome.
Overnight camping available for groups that obtain a permit in advance.
Insect repellent strongly recommended. On the Red or Yellow Loops, expect to get your feet wet.
Palm Bluff Conservation Area is located along SR 415 in southern Volusia County, 1.9 miles north of the intersection with Howland Blvd in Deltona, north of Osteen.
About the Preserve
A large parking area adjoins the trailhead, with plenty of room for horse trailers.
A group campsite is available for use not far from the trailhead, but must be reserved in advance.
There are three multi-use trails in the preserve, one of which is an extension of the longest of the loops.
All trails require following the white blazes from the trailhead kiosk for a half mile before reaching where the loops start.
The White Trail starts right off the white blazes at the half mile mark, and heads east into damper habitats, making a loop into drier ones on the return. It’s 2.2 miles to complete.
White Trail, Palm Bluff Conservation Area
An easy sample of habitats found across the 3,300 acres of Palm Bluff Conservation Area, the White Trail offers a short loop through the Deep Creek floodplain.
At that half mile mark, the Red Trail starts at a gate that warns you that cattle are loose behind it. This 6.6 mile loop on the east side of the preserve crosses a creek twice.
The long loop is why this is a favorite destination for equestrians. Add in the trip to and from the trailhead and it’s a 7.6 mile hike.
Red Trail, Palm Bluff Conservation Area
Crossing open pine savannas, pasturelands, and tracing a blackwater creek floodplain, the 7.6-mile Red Trail at Palm Bluff Conservation Area provides a quiet hike east of DeLand.
The Yellow Trail is attached to the far northeast corner of the Red Trail. It adds another 2.1 miles for an overall 9.2 mile journey from the trailhead.
Since it’s on the opposite side of the creek, it can also be inundated in times of high water, which is to say often in this particular part of the county.
See our photos from Palm Bluff Conservation Area
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Deep Creek Preserve
Restoring a ranch back to natural habitats takes time, but brings to life the natural beauty of these soggy habitats in the Deep Creek basin near Lake Ashby
Lake Monroe Conservation Area
With marshes brimming with swamp sunflowers and old-growth forests along natural ridges, Lake Monroe Conservation Area protects the St. Johns River north shore at Osteen
Wiregrass Prairie Preserve
Pull on your swamp shoes to explore one of Volusia County’s most remote trail systems along a massive basin swamp in the St. Johns River valley
Hickory Bluff Preserve
Just east of Osteen, Hickory Bluff Preserve provides a 1.5-mile loop to a bluff of notable size along a scenic stretch of the St. Johns River