In the mosaic of habitats that make up more than 1,400 acres at Wiregrass Prairie Preserve, most of them are wet.
But the Yellow and Green Trails at the southeast corner of the preserve traverse a mostly dry landscape.
This is partly as it lies on the edge of an island in a vast swamp in the St. Johns River Valley, and partly as it was used for raising timber and cattle.
Largely a loop hike, it won’t keep you completely dry, but it will have you enjoying the open pine savanna and wiregrass prairie.
Since we hiked the trail, the homestead adjoining the trailhead has been acquired as public land and a return trail built more directly to the trailhead.
We drew in that route in blue on the map at the bottom of the page, but our hike description below mirrors the exact hike we did using both the Yellow and Green Trails.
At the time, yellow markers lined the entire route, so that’s what you’ll see in our photos.
From the official map, it appears the route has shifted slightly from this alignment in a couple of spots, and a rain shelter has been added.
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Length: 3.3 mile round-trip and loop
Land manager: Volusia County
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed pets welcome. Insect repellent is a must.
Hikers, off-road cyclists, and equestrians share the trails.
To camp at the primitive campsite off the Green Trail, obtain a permit in advance by calling ahead.
From SR 415 in Osteen, turn on New Smyrna Blvd. Make an immediate left onto Florida Ave, which becomes Osteen-Maytown Road. It is occassionally paralleled by a bike path, the East Central Regional Railroad Trail. After 5.7 miles, you reach Pell Rd in Farmton. Turn left. Continue north 4.1 miles. The pavement ends in front of a fire tower. Turn right on Rudman Rd, an unpaved one lane track through a farm. Do not attempt to reach the trailhead if there is deep mud or soft sand along it. The trailhead is 1 mile down this road on the right.
Starting from the map kiosk at the parking area, follow the yellow markers atop white-tipped posts down an elevated grassy berm.
Making a gentle left at a quarter mile, the trail enters former pastureland replanted with longleaf pine.
After 0.6 miles, you meet the junction with the Green Trail at a bench. Turn right.
Crossing over a stream that runs through a culvert, the trail enters pine flatwoods with an understory of saw palmetto.
Expansive open pine savanna with cypress domes stretches off to the right. The forest road that the trail follows marks the ecotone between habitats.
Entering a dense longleaf pine forest, expect water to fill puddles and ruts in the road and along it when water levels are right in the area.
Clumps of saw palmetto and longleaf pine rise from an adjoining cattle ranch. The trail follows its fenceline, turning away from it just shy of a mile.
A sign points the way south to the primitive campsite. Continue along through an eye-catching expanse of silvery-blue tinged saw palmetto.
After 1.2 miles, leave the berm and enter the prairie, with a wall of pines and oaks to the right and an expanse of longleaf pine savanna to the left.
The wall of trees becomes a bayhead swamp delineating the edge of the savanna.
Making a sharp bend to the left, the trail immerses in the prairie’s wide open spaces, which are dense with wiregrass.
Yellow stargrass adds a tinge of color to the landscape, along with fleabane and the feathery arcs of blazing star, which blooms in a showy display each fall.
Leaving the prairie behind for denser pine flatwoods, the Green Trail meets the Yellow Trail again at 1.6 miles.
Turn right at the T, following the yellow arrow. If it’s rained recently, you may encounter soggy spots in the footpath, some ankle-deep in places.
Entering a denser, older pine savanna, the trail comes up to the next junction. Pass an unmarked trail on the left.
The Yellow Trail splits around a clump of saw palmetto and an arrow encourages you to keep right at this junction.
A line of cypresses marks the horizon on the right as you emerge into another pine savanna. Follow the marker at the next junction.
The prairie opens up again around you, providing sweeping views across a grand and beautiful landscape. As the trail curves to the left, it offers even better views.
The saw palmetto is short and the view is broad, so as you cross this panoramic palmetto prairie you can see trail markers in the distance.
At 2.2 miles, you reach a junction with a trail coming in from the left. The marker points in that direction, so turn left to leave the prairie, heading for the treeline.
This portion of the trail is a bit rougher than the rest, with deer tracks leading through muddy spots.
Turn left at the T intersection, where you may find sabatia – a bright pink wildflower – in bloom.
The trail follows the old fenceline, with a view to the left of the prairie that you just crossed.
Stay left at the next fork. A cypress dome rises behind the pines as you come to the end of the prairie.
It can be wet underfoot where the cypress swamp drains across the trail beneath the longleaf pines.
Keep watching for the next marker as you work your way through this patchwork of puddles.
Passing a trail coming in from the left at another drainage area, you complete the upper loop after 2.6 miles.
Rejoining the main trail, watch for the second turn to the right.
Dog fennel grows tall between the pines and the saw palmetto along this short corridor, which emerges at the first junction with a bench, completing the overall loop.
Continue straight ahead, following the grassy berm you came in on, to complete the hike after 3.3 miles.
Learn more about Wiregrass Prairie Preserve
See our photos from Wiregrass Prairie Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Spanning 36.2 linear miles across southern Volusia County, the East Central Regional Rail Trail offers a long ride that also makes up a portion of several major Florida bike trails
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
Discover a parade of habitats in the uplands of the Deep Creek basin on the 2.2 mile White Trail, the shortest loop at this massive conservation area