The St. Francis Trail offers two different hikes. One is easy and takes about an hour while the other is slightly more challenging because of its distance.
If you're looking for a good afternoon hike, the 7-mile blue-blazed trail winds through diverse terrain and ecosystem to the once-booming town of St. Francis. You'll experience a bayhead swamp, oak hammock, yellow pine flatwoods and riverine swamp along with sights of St. Francis Dead River and St. Johns River. Experience the diverse habitats with its thriving birdlife and wildlife. Visitors may get a glimpse at red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers, or red-winged blackbirds.
Looking for something less challenging? Take your time and enjoy the 2.8-mile yellow-blazed route that loops from the "blue" trail around a natural spring.
St. Francis, once a thriving pioneer town on the west bank of the St. Johns River, originally known as "Old Town," was founded in 1887. In its heyday, the town supported a weekly newspaper, "The Florida Facts," a post office, a general store, a hotel, a warehouse with roomy wharves, a sanitarium and health resort, numerous residences, and several hundred acres of citrus trees.
Residents of the area brought logs and citrus by ox-drawn wagons to St. Francis for shipping on the river. Steamboats brought goods and supplies for settlements throughout north Lake Country. With the development of railroads, shipping on the St. Johns River slowly faded away. This, combined with the devastating freeze of 1894, spelled the doom of St. Francis.
Directions: From Crows Bluff, FL, The trailhead is located along State Highway 42, just north of State Highway 44. (Adjacent to River Forest Group Camp.)
Elevation: 5 - 10 feet
Elevation Gain: Minimal
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