November 17 is National Take a Hike Day! Timucuan Parks Foundation supports more than 50,000 acres of the city’s natural parks and preserves throughout the greater Jacksonville area. From the north to the south, the east to the west — and all spaces in between — the city boasts beautiful natural spaces offering many recreational opportunities. Leading up to the big day, we are taking you around the parks map. We start with the northernmost preserves that include Seaton Creek Historic Preserve and Thomas Creek Preserve and Fish Camp.
Seaton Creek Historic Preserve and Thomas Creek Preserve and Fish Camp
Seaton Creek Historic Preserve and Thomas Creek Preserve and Fish Camp are about a 20-minute drive from each other now (due to a newly extended road) and about a 30-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville. They are located north of the airport, close to the Nassau County border.
Hike, Bike, or Ride Horseback: At Seaton Creek, with the main entrance at 2145 Gold Star Family Parkway (formerly Arnold Rd.), you can hike, bike or bring your horse to enjoy any of the three trails which cover about five miles. The longer Houston Creek Yellow Trail is 2.3 miles long one way and takes you to a tributary resting off Thomas Creek where you can sit and enjoy the amazing view of the creek and pristine marshes. You will see old Florida landscape with tall pines and hardwoods. A tip for visitors: make sure you bring your insect repellent.
Shorter Hike: Off the Yellow Trail, you can take the Long Cut which is a one-mile trail, or the Legacy Loop which takes you on a 1.7-mile path.
Enjoy the creek: Just up the newly extended Gold Star Family Parkway (formerly Arnold Rd.) is Thomas Creek Preserve and Fish Camp at 17198 Ethel Rd. with a dock, boat ramp, canoe and kayak launch. Just remember, no boats over 17 feet are allowed. Thomas Creek itself marks the border of Duval and Nassau counties in this area and is the largest tributary of the Nassau River. You can also bring your fishing pole and fish from the pier. It’s an ideal place for bird watching and picnicking as well. You could catch a glimpse of wildlife including alligators, woodpeckers and wading birds.
Did you know? Thomas Creek is thought to be the site of the southernmost battle of the American Revolutionary War, and the only one fought in present-day Duval County. Make sure you check out the historic markers that detail the history.