We rode our bikes on this trail for the first time on a Saturday afternoon around 75 degrees. Couldn't have asked for a better day. There were leisurely bike riders (us), fast cyclists, dog walkers, rollerbladers, walking families with strollers, and everyone we encountered was nice & respectful, keeping to the right for faster passerbys. The parking lot has security cameras, trash bins, & restrooms. The trail has mile markers and 5 miles down there is a stopping point with restrooms. There are benches every couple of miles & most of the trail is shaded. The scenery is nice, though u will pass a few derelict trailers & monster trucks. Today we saw cats, dogs, cows, bulls with horns, little pigs, donkeys, turkeys, squirrels, & 1 unsuspecting rabbit :) We did 5 miles & came back but at the 5 mile stopping point there is a map that shows a town if you continue on for 5-6 miles that has ice cream shops & restaurants. Hoping to return to this trail soon.
Play "Animal Scavenger Hunt"
Play "Animal Scavenger Hunt" as you breeze under the shaded Florida canopies!
We had an awesome Bike Ride yesterday at the Baldwin/Jacksonville Trail. The entire trail is 14.5 miles journeying through the swamp, forests, wetlands, grassy plains, rural homes, small farms etc. The constant shift in scenery is stimulating and it's even more fun to count how much wildlife you saw! I joked that it was like playing Animal Bingo! The coolest thing I saw was an adorable baby armadillo sniffing around the grass about a foot from the trail. I was also amused seeing two cows bathing in a deep pond in the shady forest. It looked a little ominous with the dramatic lighting and reminded me of The Walking Dead. (Thankfully, no zombies were present.)
I was surprised with how BUSY it was Sunday morning! There was spandex, helmets, and bikes with skinny tires galore in the parking lot. However, once you were on a trail you had a leisurely private ride all to yourself with numerous "Good Mornings" to other cyclists as they passed.
When reading the reviews on this site it warned against car breakins, but it seemed like there was a constant watchful crowd by the parking lot so I wasn't worried.
Because of the Florida summer heat, and because we were wussy, we did not finish the entire trail. We stopped midway by Camp Milton. Camp Milton Historical Preserve is the site of an important battle of the Civil War, but to be honest with you there wasn't much to see. At that halfway point there is also clean bathrooms, water fountains, and two picnic tables. We rode on the little trail off by the bathrooms to explore Camp Milton. Just meandering around Camp Milton wasn't terribly interesting but it was something new to explore and it was free.
I can't wait to go back and ride along the other half of the trail towards Baldwin and see what other animals we find and reward ourselves with some Dreamette icecream upon completion!
I just found this trail after living here for 27 years
The Jacksonville trail head is easy to find. Even though my GPS kept trying to dump me on the Baldwin end, I just found Imeson Road and looked for the sign. The parking lot was full at 8:45am. I found a grass spot and unpacked my bike.
The trail head is very basic -paved parking spots, trail guide sign and mens/womans restrooms. The trail is wide, smooth, even has mile markers - a nice touch. Passing mile marker 1 I felt fatigued and anxious. Am I THAT out of shape?? Then I realized I was on an incline. Being an old railway, the inclines are so gradual you don't notice them but your legs will. As soon as I got past that first peak suddenly life got better. I love those long, smooth sweeping curves - no blind spots!
Within 20 minutes I found myself riding in the total shade. Even on this hot sweaty August day the air was surprisingly comfortable under the dense canopy. It's been a wet summer so the drainage ditches on each side of the trail were full of water - and mozzies! If you ride this trail after a heavy rain, bring plenty of repellent or ride like the wind!!
The rest area at the Camp Milton Historic Preserve fork is delightful! There's a cement pad with picnic table, groomed grass area, clean restrooms and ICE COLD water in the drinking fountains! There are only a few street crossings on this trail and the rural roads were never busy.
The morning crowd was mainly comprised of spandex suited marathoners shooting swiftly past me. They glided along singly and in long strings. I was a little disappointed at the number of empty drink bottles this crowd drops in a single day. As the sun got high in the sky the mix of people changed. I passed a senior couple holding hands taking leisurely stroll, a delightful chap in flip flops riding a beach cruiser with an umbrella strapped to the bars. I was amazed at the variety of people I met.
The Baldwin trial head and adjoining park has something for everyone. Both covered and open picnic areas, playground, skateboard park, and a tourist shop that was closed at the time. Conspicuously absent was the big city crowds you find at parks in larger cities. If you like a quiet, relaxed atmosphere the Baldwin trail head is a good stopping off spot.
I rode a few blocks north to "Everybody's Restaurant". This quaint little breakfast diner is chocked full of nostalgia, good food and southern hospitality. You'd be hard pressed to spend over $10 per meal. Their cheeseburger plate really hit the spot for me.
Overall I was very satisfied I took this ride and I will do it again soon. This being my first 30 mile round trip ride ever, it was surprisingly stress free due to the smooth flat paved trail. I would recommend this ride to anyone who loves to enjoy nature in peaceful quiet surroundings. With the exception of the shooting range I passed by, I mostly heard birds singing, leaves rustling and water trickling - very relaxing.
good trail, especially if you're local
I don't know that I would drive for hours to get to this trail, but it is definitely worth a drive if you're local. I live in Jacksonville and have used the trail many times. It is decently kept, there is a bathroom and water fountain built at an old train station a little farther than midway from the Jax end of the trail. There are porta potties and parking at the jax and baldwin trail ends. The main selling point for me is there are only 2 or 3 street crossings so it there is no traffic to contend with and the scenery is decent in general, but actually very nice as far as Jacksonville goes. Scenery wise, there are horse and cattle farms along the way, and lots of tree cover. The trail is flat for the most part, there are a few slight hills that work your legs if you're used to the usual flat jacksonville stuff, but it's an easy ride. I've taken road bikes, mountain bikes, and even an 3 speed in-hub french number from the 60's on this trail and they all got me through with ease. There aren't many places nearby to eat so I'd pack some snacks.
Getting More Beautiful Every Year
My wife and I have ridden thousands of miles on this trail. It is beautiful, with a tree canopy covering probably 75% of it. We have seen squirrels, rabbits, snakes, deer, longhorn steer,turkeys, pheasants, cattle, birds of every kind, vultures, eagles, goats, turtles....it's like a visit to the zoo! The trail is blacktopped and very smooth. It is maintained by the City of Jacksonville, and they blow off debris every day.
Watch for wildlife
"On our many outings on the trail we have seen deer, turkeys, foxes, hawks, rabbits and one rabbit in the process of becoming a hawk, at least part of a hawk. We have seen several coral snakes. You don't see these guys often. I have never seen one anywhere else but the zoo. We have seen wood storks, stilts and herons in the ditches on the road to the power plant, a worthy side trip. We have seen diamond back rattle snakes, timber rattlers, and pygmies. We have seen ribbon snakes, racers, rat snakes and moccasins. We have seen a huge variety of wildflowers and plants. It is a heck of a nature walk that many people miss because they are so focused on going fast."
Excellent day adventure
"This trail is really nice. It is close enough to my house so that I don't have to load my bike into my car and drive to the trail.
I get on near the Imeson trailhead, so that makes it really convenient. We can ride the whole trail to Baldwin and then go to Everybody's Restaurant to eat dinner. This makes it a nice family outing, or we just take a picnic. Then, we just ride back home.
e rode two weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon and saw three gopher tortoises, two deer, an alligator, several birds including a belted kingfisher, numerous squirrels and lots and lots of beautiful butterflies. Today we rode it and only saw two baby gopher tortoises, birds including our belted kingfisher that we saw the last time, squirrels and butterflies. Each trip you can expect to see different things.
The canopy of trees really makes this trail something special. It is just gorgeous; you'll see quite a bit of wild flowers. I haven't tried the other rail-trails but, with this one so close to my home I am satisfied with it. I have ridden it several times and don't get bored with it. I could ride it everyday and count each time as a new adventure.
I see a lot of people on the trail, on bikes, hiking, inline skates, horses, jogging, you name it. I am glad that they put something so nice out on this side of town. Besides the Jacksonville Zoo, this is about the only outdoor entertainment that we have in Jacksonville. Anyway, I could go on and on.
So, just get out your bicycles or go buy one and hit the trail. You won't be sorry."
Ride It To Believe It!
"This 14.5-mile long asphalt surfaced trail is a magnet for bikers and in-line skaters living in or near Jacksonville and Baldwin, FL. The trail boasts three dedicated trail user parking lots, a former railroad caboose, a restroom facility fashioned as a railroad station, a gated trail crossing over an active railroad line, safety signage at all street crossings, and much more.
On the day of my visit the Imeson Road Trailhead parking lot in Jacksonville was full. However, the Baldwin and Brandy Branch Trailhead parking lots had one car each parked in them. The three parking lots are identically constructed and sized. Portable restrooms are located at the Imeson Road and Brandy Branch lots. The permanent restroom facility fashioned as a train station is located in Baldwin adjacent to a municipal park; that‘s where you‘ll find the old caboose as well. There’s also a working water fountain at the Baldwin Trailhead and Park.
If you enjoy biking flat paved surfaces, or are an avid in-line skater, and don’t mind dealing with loads of street crossings, give this trail a try. Bring plenty of water in the summer though!"