Blazed in light blue, the Bartram Loop parallels the John’s Landing Trail but offers a more immersive walk in the woods and an extended ramble along the river.
With two campsites along the St. Johns River facing one of its more wild and scenic sections, it makes for a short backpacking trip suitable for families.
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Length: 5 mile loop
Length: 5 mile loop
Fees: $2 per person for day use
Land Manager: Florida Forest Service
Open sunrise to sunset unless permitted to camp. Leashed dogs welcome.
Trails are open to cyclists and equestrians except where posted.
There are two campsites along this loop, Orange Point and John’s Landing. Primitive camping is available at both of these scenic sites and costs $10 per site for a maximum of 5 people.
Group camping can also be arranged. Contact the forest to reserve in advance of your visit.
From Palatka, follow US 17 south to Satsuma. Turn right onto CR 309 and follow the brown signs through Satsuma and Palatka. the John’s Landing Trailhead is another 1.2 miles south along CR 309 on the right past the forest headquarters and Mud Spring trailhead.
From the fire tower clearing, start at the Forest Education Trail kiosk for a short walk on a gentle interpretive path that meets Eagle Nest Row at the John’s Landing Trail kiosk.
Turn left and immediately look for a double blue blaze on the right, with an orange arrow pointing towards it.
This is where the William Bartram St. Johns River Loop begins. Its route roughly parallels that of the original John’s Landing Trail, but with a big bonus: it’s not on broad forest roads.
The trail starts out by tunneling into the ecotone between wet flatwoods sweeping uphill to the left, and bayhead swamps down to the right.
Although pine needles carpet the footpath, there are erosional features from an earlier narrow road that gather and funnel water.
You’ll find yourself walking around puddles after a rain, or even wading down the middle of the trail.
For a brief segment at 0.6 mile, the trail joins the John’s Landing Trail to skirt a bayhead swamp.
It leaves Longleaf Lane at an orange arrow for another ramble in the woods down a corridor through the pines.
Winding through a small bayhead, the trail pops out after 1.4 miles at a signed trail junction where Longleaf Lane and Deer Run form a corner on the John’s Landing Trail.
Turn right to follow the blue blazes down to Orange Point. This is the first of the two primitive campsites along the hike.
Sitting atop a small bluff on the St. Johns River, it’s a beauty spot with a picnic bench and nice views.
Look for the blue blazes beneath a bower of arching live oaks and follow them into the dense bluff forest.
This is where the Bartram Loop is at its finest, keeping close to the shoreline of the St. Johns River while it zigzags through palm hammocks.
When you reach a junction with an unmarked trail, keep right.
Emerging into a clearing after 2.5 miles, the trail leads you to the second campsite at John’s Landing.
It’s much larger than the previous campsite and is frequented by both groups and paddlers, since there is an easy place to bring canoes ashore. A bench offers a view of the cove at John’s Landing.
Follow the blue and orange blazes out to Deer Run and cross it to continue along the loop, sharing the route with the John’s Landing Trail.
Watch for a divergence of blazing, where the Bartram Loop slips into the forest to the right. As before, it returns to the main route again as you reach Indian Pond Run.
Take Indian Pond Run past the ponds, returning to the orange blazes of the John’s Landing Trail.
Continue along them to close the loop and return to the kiosk at Eagle Nest Row. Take the Forest Education Trail back to the trailhead to complete the hike.
See our photos of the Bartram Loop
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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
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.
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.