Black Creek Ravines lies in Clay County, Florida. Though close to Middleburg, the property offers hiking and horseback riding trails that will make you feel miles from town. St. Johns River Water Management District acquired the woodlands and wetlands acreage in 1996. Today, they maintain it in a mutual effort with Clay County to protect the habitat and its abundant wildlife.
You can access this area from Green Road, just north of County Road 218. You will find abundant parking for horse trailers as well as about 20 miles of horseback riding and hiking trails. The property also offers camping and group camping areas as well as observation points.
Hiking Black Creek Ravines Red Loop
Hiking Trail at Black Creek Ravines
Red Loop Trail offers just about everything you’d want in a short, six-mile trail. First, loops especially appeal especially to hikers and backpackers in that you don’t need to retread ground. That is, your voyage back offers as many new sights and sounds as your trek in. But I especially like when a trail provides some kind of destination. At your midway point, you’ll find a really nice view of Black Creek. On top of that, a perfectly situated bench awaits so you can relax, hydrate and eat while taking in the view.
You’ll find the trails themselves simple to follow and easy to tread. Though sandy, they rarely have much “give” like sweet sand does, making this an easy hike. Plus, you’ll find a good deal of variety with a mix of wide-open areas and canopied woods. You’ll start on a narrow but well-trod White Blaze Trail that leads you to the generally wider Red Loop. At one point, you will follow a powerline trail. This, however, does not last long – about half a mile – so don’t worry about boring views.
Is there anything to see here?
Turkeys at Black Creek Ravines
You’ll find an abundance of flower, bird and other wildlife viewing opportunities. I spotted several deer and even stumble over a gaggle of about seven turkeys. Since I visited in October, the Hairy Chaffhead – Carphephorus paniculatus – bloomed fully, attracting many gulf fritallary butterflies. I don’t see these often in my usual hikes in Alachua, Marion or Putnam Counties and added them to my Florida Wildflower Field Guide. Other flowers such as Florida Paintbrush were also in bloom.
I found no drawbacks at all to this hiking area in Clay County. And even if 6 miles isn’t enough for you, you can easily turn off and take some of the other trails. This is definitely a no-miss, quiet nature area for hikers and horseback riders alike.