A community park in Welaka, 40 Acre Park is a great stop for birding, with little-used trails that ramble around a series of wetlands once used in the fish hatchery.
Hiking, biking, paddling, camping, and other outdoor recreation near the town of Welaka. A historic community on the St. Johns River south of Palatka, Welaka is home to one of Florida's most significant archaeological sites, Mount Royal, as well as more than a dozen springs.
A stop along the Bartram Trail, the Beecher Run Nature Trail at Welaka National Fish Hatchery provides a walk beneath ancient pines along the edge of the hatchery ponds, which are fed by historic Beecher Spring.
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.
One of Florida’s largest mounds, Mount Royal was first documented by William Bartram in 1765, when it was an important central feature of a large village along the St. Johns River.
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.
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.
Learning how botanists William and John Bartram traveled along the St. Johns River in the 1700s, I followed an experienced river guide for a look at part of the Bartram National Recreation Trail from the water on our Bartram Adventure Tour in Palatka.
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.
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.