Spend time outdoors in Clay County exploring the 35 miles of trails throughout our local and state parks, conservation areas and Florida trailways during your time in Northeast Florida. As home to three sites along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, there’s no shortage of wildlife sightings right here in Clay County.
Nature and Trails Attractors:
Camp Chowenwaw: Dating back to 1933, Green Cove Springs’ Camp Chowenwaw County Park was once Florida’s first Girl Scout Camp. Today, the public park offers 150 acres, a swimming pool and numerous trails for exploring and pristine conditions for overnight camping too. From one of the many onsite cabins to a night in one of the nine treehouses that sleep four people, families can sleep under the stars at this historic campground.
Go for a hike on the Jungle Trail and make your way to the observation deck on Black Creek. Open on the third Saturday of each month, the Camp Chowenwaw Park History Museum tells the stories and history of the Girl Scouts that once used this same property.
Gold Head State Park: Known as one of Florida’s First State Parks, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Keystone Heights is home to 2,000 acres with 5.44 miles of trails along the Florida National Scenic Trail. The Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) passes through 5.4 miles of the park and connects to other public lands.
Go fishing or go for a swim in Little Lake Johnson and if you’d like to explore the area by water, canoe rentals are available too. As a full-facility campground with 73 camp sites, overnight accommodations are available for RVs, tents and cabin rentals.
Jennings State Forest: At nearly 24,000 acres, Jennings State Forest located just outside of Oakleaf is home to 15 different biological communities including sandhill, slope forest, flatwoods, seepage slope, dome swamp, blackwater stream and seepage stream.
The forest is open daily during daylight hours for visitors interested in hiking, bicycling, canoeing and horseback riding throughout the land. There are three hiking trails ranging from 1.7 miles to 5-mile loops taking visitors along area waterways and primitive areas in the forest. Overnight camping and primitive campsites are available at the Hammock Campground.
Bayard Conservation Area: Located just south of Green Cove Springs, the Bayard Conservation Area features 10,371 acres of conservation land with seven miles of river frontage along the St. Johns River. A variety of wildlife calls the area home including gopher tortoise, bald eagle, little blue heron, deer and turkey.
Hikers can enjoy 15 miles of trails through inside the John P. Hall Nature Preserve located within the conservation area. Climb the observation tower for wildlife viewing and views of the nearby St. Johns River. Two campsites within the preserve are available for overnight stays. Along with exploring the hiking trails, choose from equestrian trails, bank fishing, bird watching and primitive launch sites for canoes and kayaking.
Additional trails include, but are not limited to:
Ronnie Van Zant Park – enjoy some disc golf, here too!
Ready to explore the outdoors and trails of Clay County? Let us help you explore your passions in our small towns. To learn more about these areas and other parks, go to www.ExploreClay.com.