While it has remained there for more than a century, just hidden in the woods next to its replacement, International Speedway Boulevard, the Pershing Highway had all but faded from memory.
Named for a World War I general with ties to the area, the Pershing Highway came of age in the area of the Model A.
This particular segment was started in 1917 to connect Daytona Beach with DeLand. Another piece led from DeLand to Ormond Beach. The third connected back to Daytona.
Together, they were known as the Pershing Triangle, one of Florida’s first highways, and was commemorated on a license plate of the time.
When Tiger Bay State Forest built a trailhead with a prominent sign along US 92, and added some interpretation, this hidden historic gem finally came back in the spotlight.
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Location: Daytona Beach
Length: 2.4 mile round-trip
Trailhead: 29.1321, -81.1530
Land manager: Florida Forestry Service
Leashed dogs welcome. There are benches spaced along the length of the trail.
All artifacts along the trail are protected under state archaeological laws. Do not remove any plants or objects you encounter.
As no sign warned off bicycles, we explored the trail by foot and later by bike. It is a very bumpy experience to ride a brick road.
From Daytona Beach at Interstate 95, follow US 92 (International Speedway Blvd) west for 4.2 miles to the traffic light for Indian Lake Rd. Get in the left lane and watch for the trailhead sign on the opposite side of the highway. Use the next turnaround to get in the eastbound lanes of US 92 to reach the trailhead. Parking is very limited.
Your hike starts most obviously as the red brick road stretches west from the trailhead as far as you can see down it.
The kiosk at the start explains the historic significance of this road, which opened in 1917. It was part of a 63-mile network of roads through Volusia County at that time.
Back then, not a lot of people owned cars. The road was only as wide as the brick surface, eight feet across.
Once traffic picked up and cars needed to pass, it was necessary to widen the highway. Chattahoochee stone flanks were added on both sides.
The surrounding habitat is pine flatwoods. Soon after our initial hike here, a friend saw a bear along the trail.
A mileage marker appears after the first quarter mile. These continue on the quarter mile to the last bench.
The forest transitions into a wet flatwoods, with pines and cypress and mixed marsh vegetation beneath.
After a half mile, there is a bridge allowing a dark cypress-lined stream to flow under the highway.
Soon after, the road starts a slow curve northwest. Willows make a dense wall in front of the taller cypress and pines.
The farther you progress, the more wild the forest feels, crowding in on the road on both sides.
When US 92 opened in 1947, this road vanished from sight and memory. You can see how easily the forest would reclaim it.
It wasn’t until the devastating wildfires of 1998 that it was rediscovered. In 2011, Scout troops and volunteers from Daytona cleared the brush to enable the forest service to open this as a trail.
The trail officially ends at a kiosk and bench at the 1 mile mark. Be sure to read the information here, as it talks about the Pershing Triangle highway system in more detail.
The bricks continue past the kiosk and the road crumbles away into the swamp that divides this highway from US 92. At 1.2 miles, this is your obvious turnaround point.
Although this is the end of the trail, you can find another segment of the Pershing Highway off US 92 west of the forest headquarters.
Drive up there after you finish your 2.4 mile hike and simply turn onto Old DeLand Rd just past forest headquarters.
That road segment tunnels through a drier pine forest behind the headquarters.
Learn about other hikes and outdoor activities at Tiger Bay State Forest
See our video of the Pershing Highway Interpretive Trail
See our photos of Tiger Bay State Forest
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Stretching 5.2 miles through an primordial forest of sluggish, fern-lined waterways, ancient live oaks, magnolias, and cabbage palms, the Bulow Woods Loop is one of North Florida’s most scenic hikes
At DeLeon Springs State Park, the Wild Persimmon Trail is a 4.5 mile wild walk along the edge of habitats in the floodplain forest created by the springs.
Six miles of trails meander through wide open spaces preserved for wintering waterfowl at 21,500-acre Lake Woodruff NWR along the St. Johns River.