This is one of my favorite hikes. I have mapped White Blaze and Rice Plantation Levee Trail portions of Bartram Trail. Taken together, these trails form a loop of just over five miles. That trail will take you in deep woods and across fields covering 4200 acres in Putnam County near near Palatka and Interlachen.
Get there with my Google Map below. So after parking in the wide parking area, a dirt road continues beyond a simple gate and soon splits. You can continue straight ahead on the no vehicle access road for horseback riding and biking, or veer northwest for a great trail hike. The hiking trail takes you across an open prairie and into the dense woods about half a mile away.
Hiking Rice Creek – Rice Plantation Levee Trail
After about 9/10 of a mile, you enter the forest. Note that the trail here may be flooded after rains. But if the first 2/10 mile upon entering the woods is passable, you are all set. The trail dries from here. Furthermore, boardwalks lead the way over permanently swampy areas.
Here you will follow a segment of the Florida Trail that takes you through canopy forest, marshlands and a creek that flows year around, with well-maintained bridges throughout, and even an observation platform. I hiked the woods for a five mile loop where the last mile brings you back to the dirt road for horses or biking.
Yet you get a pretty good feeling of being deep in the sub-tropical forest with lots of bird watching opportunities and animals, camping areas, creeks and marshlands, and a true nature feel rather than seeming like a park. The flora and fauna are each very diverse with a variety of flowers in spring, great swamp and marsh areas in summer, and dense woods opening into large fields year around. In fact, it’s the only area hike I’ve spotted swamp irises. These and other beautiful wildflowers
Alligator at Rice Creek
illuminate the way. And I commonly find alligators both young and old with safe views from the boardwalk. Plus, you likely will find beautiful swamp irises too.
That “back to nature” feel comes with the downside of lots of mosquitoes and ticks. Golden orb weaver spiders – big ones – build webs throughout the trail in summer. [Image below] They are not dangerous, but you may want to carry a stick to clear the way! And since the area is swampy, you will want to spray for mosquitoes.
Trail Images Below
Forest Trail Ahead
One of seven young gators
Wild azalea blossom
Golden Orb Weaver
Southern Blue Flag Iris, Swamp Iris, Virginia Iris – Iris Virginica