I met a friendly guy from St. Johns River Water Management District on the trail who said this land who said that SJRWMD was working to slow the flow of water from Sawmill Creek into the Silver River. The idea is to keep the river clearer while also preserving water to (potentially) pump back into a local, Marion County aquifer.
He also said this land was recently owned by Rayonier, a timber company. This would account for the hard roads, and with miles of trails this is a place you might rather bike than hike. In fact, following the White Blaze Loop, I was struck by how searing white the trail appeared in the sun. All trails are firm with no sweet sand and quite flat, making them ideal for biking or running.
I also the Red Blaze Trail Loop – over 11 miles starting at a white blaze entrance with way points marked at AllTrails.
Entrance is easy with plenty of parking either from either County Road 315 or from 326, and while the White Blaze Loop offers 6 miles of great hiking or biking from either end of the conservation area, there are many miles left to see.
In early morning hours I have spotted many deer and also a boar, so use sensible caution. The trails are ideal for either hiking or off-road biking. They are well blazed, well maintained with mowing, and wide enough you’ll unlikely encounter any spiderwebs crossing the trails.
The red and white trails are well blazed too. I did both and could hardly believe I was the only person there on a Sunday. If you want a great outdoor opportunity not far from town, this is ideal.
Unmarked trails are easy to access without getting lost, and you are sure to encounter an abundant variety of flora including
wildflowers, and an abundance of wildlife. In four visits, I’ve always seen deer and have also spotted brown bear and a bald eagle.
And watch for the little things. Among the photos below is also an odd find, an Orb Spider (Arrowhead variety, Verrucosa arenata) notable for the yellow arrowhead shape on its abdomen. The largeflower rose gentium – Marsh Pink – I had the good fortune to discover.