Ready to hit the trail?

Clay Today
Posted 2/13/19

MIDDLEBURG – Hikers in Northeast Florida have new options to hit the trail in Clay County.

The Florida Forest Service Jacksonville District recently opened a scenic new hiking trail along the …

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Ready to hit the trail?

Posted

MIDDLEBURG – Hikers in Northeast Florida have new options to hit the trail in Clay County.

The Florida Forest Service Jacksonville District recently opened a scenic new hiking trail along the North Fork of Black Creek in Jennings State Forest that offers a tour reminiscent of “Old Florida.”

The Pioneer Trail was named because it passes through the same areas where Florida’s first pioneers settled. Hikers can see remnants of the early turpentine industry on old tree stumps. The Pioneer Trail covers approximately five miles, which run through varying ecosystems that include sand hills, flatwoods and wetlands, and offer dramatic elevation changes along with extraordinary views of Black Creek.

There are also several scenic overlook areas where you can relax and listen to Black Creek flow some 80 feet beneath you. The Pioneer Trail is unique in that it incorporates only small sections of already established fire lines or roads. Most of the trail was hand cut by local volunteers who have a passion for recreation.

The Pioneer Trail offers a moderate level hike with sandy soils and continuous elevation changes, suitable for both inexperienced and seasoned hikers. Hikers can plan a short 2.5-mile hike from the Knights Landing Recreation Area south to the Indian Ford Recreation Area, where guests can enjoy a picnic lunch and a swim.

Because it is a linear trail, guests can their vehicle at their destination or plan to hike back to the recreation area where they started. Experienced hikers, and those looking for a slight challenge, can venture out from the Ellis Ford Recreation Area, take their time enjoying the views and spend the night at one of two camp zones along the trail.

These camp zones are first come, first serve and provide an area to tent camp with a picnic table and fire ring/grill combo. Hikers looking for a longer hike, can combine the two trails into one a challenging 10-mile hike from Ellis Ford Recreation Area south to Indian Ford Recreation Area and then return to Ellis Ford.

Small, but noticeable touches including wooden bridge stream crossings, benches scattered

throughout for comfort and hand routed mile marker signs can be seen along the trail. The public is invited to come out and see firsthand how the Pioneer Trail will be a treasure that can be enjoyed for generations. A Jennings State Forest trail map can be downloaded here:

https://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/27859/711787/jennings_map_pioneer_trl.pdf

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