HIKING TRAILSIn the Titusville Area
On page one of the hiking pages we discussed the hiking opportunities on lands east of Titusville located on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Manged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Canaveral National Seashore, managed by the National Park Service, as well as properties within the city limits.|
On this page, we trek just to the west of Titusville to lands managed by the St John's River Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. These properties have miles of trails through them and most offer some primative camping in addition to horseback riding and off road bicycling.
These lands are primarily within the St. John's River basin and boast a large variety of habitats. In addition, freshwater fishing for Largemounth Bass and many panfish species can be found here.
All Photos by Dean Richard Pettit unless otherwise noted.
Seminole Ranch Conservation Area
is on Hatbill Road off State Road 46 4.1 miles west of the I-95 SR 46 interchange (exit 81). Look for signs for Loughman Lake Lodge and Seminole Ranch Conservation Area on the south side of 46. There are hiking trails in Seminole Ranch at 1.1, 2.3 and 4.1 miles from SR46. This area has a total of 35 miles of hiking trails, including several miles of the Florida Trail which flanks the St. John's River. Primative camping is allowed on the portion east of the St. John's River, as is biking, horseback riding and canoeing. Hatbill Park, a County Park is within the conservation area at the end of Hatbill Road and offers boating and canoeing access to the river.
The area ecompasses 28,785 acres, 96 % of which is within the St. Johns drainage basin and a variety of habitats are found here including pine, palmetto, hardwood, hammocks, freshwater lakes and river, and wetlands. Certain areas have a unique plant community supported by connate saltwater which flows from small springs near Harney and Puzzle lakes. The salinity of small lakes in the area approaches one-third that of sea water. Many salt-tolerant and marine-dwelling organisms present here are not found anywhere else in the St. Johns River. Wildlife found here includes migratory and residential wading birds, while white pelicans, southern bald eagles, roseate spoonbills and sandhill cranes sometimes are sighted. Other wildlife includes bobcats, otters, deer, and alligators.
Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area
encompasses 4,392 acres of St. Johns River floodplain and hiking, biking and horseback riding are offered here. The Florida Trail Association maintains about 10 miles of trails which can be accessed from two points. One is through an agreement with the Great Outdoors R.V. Resort, about 1/2 mile west of Interstate 95 west of Titusville on the south side of the road. You must pass through the resort's gate. Inform the guard there that you'd like to use the Florida Trails Association Trailhead and he will give you a pass that hangs from your mirror and direct you to the trailhead. At the trailhead facing west you will find two trails. The one to your right follows the Addison-Ellis Canal on a dike, then crosses it and extends through the marshes for about to SR 50, where there is another access point. This route offers expansive views of the marshes, which provide habitat for a diverse population of wildlife, including numerous migratory and resident wading birds and waterfowl, alligators, and many endangered species. This trail is referred to as the White Trail, and is roughly 4 miles in length one way. To the left at the Great Outdoors Trailhead, a couple of loop trails, the Red and Blue Trails, take you through wooded hammock habitat providing habitat for various songbird species, deer, turkey, and other wildlife, while looping around an extensive indian midden.
The other access point is about 2 1/2 miles west of I-95 on the left and is the termination for the White Trail. (look for small sign on south side of road; just past the sign to the St. Johns NWR on the right - no public access to refuge now). There is no camping or hunting allowed here.
Buck Lake Conservation Area
encompasses 9,291 acres and has two entrances and parking areas on the north side of State Road 46. The eastern entrance is .75 mile west of I-95 while the western entrance is 6.4 mile west of I-95. Boating and canoeing access can be from the boat ramp at Six Mile Creek, a County boat ramp 3.5 miles west of I-95 on the north side of S.R. 46. Hiking, biking, horseback riding and hunting in season are allowed here and there are four primative campsites available on a first come, first serve basis. This is a type 2 management area, meaning during hunting periods you must have a valid hunting license to enter the property and no camping is allowed.
The ridge found in the eastern part of the property supports about 200 acres of scrubby flatwoods and oak hammock which is the habitat for the florida scrub jay, Florida's only endemnic bird species. A basin swamp community dominates the eastern third of the property. this basin receives runoff water from the surrounding uplands and drains into a wet prarie which forms the the headwaters of six mile creek.
The western portion of this property features a large floodplain marsh and a large marsh lake, Buck Lake. Overall, this conservation area provides protection for many natural communities and provides habitat for not only scrub jays, but gopher tortoises, bald eagles, otters, deer, fox, bobcats, turkeys, herons, egrets, owls, and woodpeckers.
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can be found west of Titusville on SR 50 over the St John's River and into the town of Christmas. Look for Look for Taylor Creek Road on the south side of SR 50. Then head south for about 3 miles and you'll see the entrance on the left on Beehead Road. There is a two dollar per vehicle day use fee. Overnight campers over eighteen will pay three dollars per night while those under eighteen will pay two dollars. There are two backpacking campsites. The Tiger Branch Campsite is three miles from the parking area/trailhead and campers must check in 1 1/2 hours before sunset while the Sabal Palm Campsite is is approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead and campers must check in at least 1 hour before sunset. Both campgrounds must be reserved at least two weeks in advance. There is also a youth camp for groups and a horseback campsite with a pitcher pump and a watering trough provided. All horse trailers must be parked here. There are two classes of trails here.
Multi use trails can be hiked, biked, and ridden on horseback and are marked with orange or rust colored blazes while the foot only trails are blazed in white. Horses are not allowed on vehicle roads except at designated horse crossing points. Bicycles are allowed on all park roads, service roads and firelines. Although not shown on the map that is linked to this page below, according to the Florida Trail association there is a southern hiking loop trail that can be accessed from SR 520 2 miles east of the St. John's River.
This 28,000 acre area runs along the St John's River and features about 30 miles of trails, primative camping, virgin pine flatwoods, and a 900-acre virgin cypress swamp which running along Jim Creek is thought to be the largest remaining stand of cypress left uncut in the state. This is a beautiful area which can be accessed from the last parking area west on Power Line Road before it crosses Jim Creek. The trail head is a log bridge over a creek just accross the road from the parking area. In the pinewoods near Beehead Ranch at the end of Beehead Road, some of the tall slash pines are thought to be 250 years old. Although the woods were ravaged by wildfire a few years ago, many survivors remain. The understory has recovered providing perfect conditions for berry bushes. Springtime is prime time for berry picking, with abundant blueberries and blackberries coming into season around mid-May.
Bird and wildlife watchers will love the opportunity to see some of the large raptors such as osprey, bald eagles, and swallow-tailed kites that can be found here. Wild turkey, white tailed deer, bobcat, racoon, armadillo and on rare occasions, Florida panther can also be spotted here. Other points of interest include the 30 indian mounds in close proximity to the trails.
The Park Roads provide parking areas and trail access throughout the park. Refer to the map for specifics.
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