Length: 41.6 miles (linear)
This is the only segment of the Florida Trail which runs almost continuously beside a major river. The terrain varies from flat dirt roads to high sandhills and limestone rock bluffs. Hikers must ford seven small streams and swampy areas. At times the trail passes through head-high bamboo. This section of trail is managed by the Suwannee River Water Management District.
The Suwannee River has tea-colored water, stained by cypress trees and oak leaves. It is fed by springs, which are seen as clear blue water where they enter the river. Near the creek and spring junctions, Indian artifacts, fossils, and Florida’s unique agatized coral have been found. Striking white sand beaches occur on river bends, providing perfect places to camp or swim.
Along the trail, you’ll see clusters of huge cypress and oak trees in the middle of primitive swamps. White lilies, azalea, sparkleberries, dogwood and redbud grow along the path, as do giant tupelo trees. At the western end, there is an abundance of spruce pine growing around rugged surface limestone punctuated by sinkholes. Many types of animals including otter, beaver and water birds may be seen. In the fall, a muted color change in the leaves is a reminder of autumn’s touch. Devil’s Mountain, a picturesque bluff over 130 feet above the water, is named after the Devil’s walking stick, a strange barbed shrub which grows there.
This section of trail is especially notable for its rugged terrain and geologic features. Take the blue-blazed side trail to Disappearing Creek to watch a creek swallowed whole by a sinkhole; pause and look out over a whirlpool in the river; watch the water tumble down the rock hillside at the Mill Creek waterfall; walk along the edge of Holton Spring. For more information contact the Suwannee Chapter.