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The Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail corridor stretches nearly 47 miles from State Route 238 in Lake Butler to west of US 17 in Palatka. Currently, 20 miles of this route are paved and open for public use. The trail follows the bed of the former Norfolk-Southern Railroad right-of-way through Putnam, Clay, and Bradford counties, and will eventually extend into Union county as well.
The open segment runs from Keystone Heights through upland pine woods and a rural setting to the western outskirts of Palatka, where it mostly parallels State Route 100.
The rest of the Palatka-Lake Butler Trail is still under design and construction. There are plans to one day continue the trail toward the east coast of Florida and connect it to the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail.
Parking areas can be found, from west to east:
Parked at Twin Lakes Park on a weekday before school was out, so nobody around. Felt like a safe area, picnic shelter and restroom but no shade to park under. Flat trail (of course), wide, smooth pavement. Came across one short stretch of trail that was underwater, but only a few inches deep and I coasted slowly across without getting my feet wet.
Rode east to the very abrupt end, and saw that it appears construction is actively taking place or will take place this summer. Florahome has nice new facilities and feels very welcoming. West from Twin Lakes Park became suburban and quickly more urban. I turned around at the first stoplight and rode back to the car generally satisfied with the ride.
Lots of good things happening on the trail in 2018. The construction east of Roberts Lane is coming along nicely and should be finished in the fall of 2018. At this time the bridge over Rice Creek is close to being finished.
Also in the news..
The ribbon cutting for the NEW pavilion at the Florahome trail head took place on May 23, 2018. A really nice pavilion with 4 tables (handicap accessible). A nice spot to get out of the sun.... Or rain in Florida.
Also a ribbon cutting for the NEW playground at the Florahome trail head took place on May 20, 2018. A really nice shaded area for the kids to play.
Coming soon to the trail head an information kiosk filled with history of the park and grounds that used to be the Florahome train depot. The park that the pavilion and playground are a part of is called Palmetto Park.
The trail was fantastic! Parked at Twin Lake Road and headed toward Palatka. Some minimal debri but smooth cycling with plenty of wild life. I’m really looking forward to the trail being complete so I can cycle safely to St Augustine. April 20, 2018
Rode this trail yesterday, end to end. A great trail but... when I returned to my car at the Roberts Lane parking lot I discovered my car window shattered. Nothing was stolen, just pure vandalism. Park somewhere else.
My buddy and I road the full length and back (40 miles) this month, 3/2018. Due to the length of this trail the number of bikers/walkers were spread out so was not at all croweded. The flooded area mentioned by previous review has subsided and is not an issue. We would love to see a timeline on when the east trailhead to Palatka portion will be completed. It appears work is in full swing and even on Saturday the crew was working. This is a great trail with only a few road crossings except for in Keystone Heights.
Another 5 miles of trail is being constructed east of Roberts Lane. This construction should be done around summer of 2018. The trail will then have a bit over 25 miles of continuous pavement. Not including the trail up to Gold Head State Park. This new section will bring the trail past county road 309C where you can then hop on a short 2 mile trail that will take you to a park with picnic tables and bathrooms (that are not always open).
Also coming in late spring early summer. Construction of a pavilion with picnic tables & a new playground will be completed at the Florahome trail-head. Thanks to the hard work of local residents and donations from business's..
My review, submitted December 2017, contains an error. I was referring to Hurricane Irma, not Matthew, in my review.
My husband and I love to ride our bikes on this trail. We noticed that the trail is being extended from Robert's Lane toward the Palatka area. Not sure how far it will go, but we can see work being done from Carraway all the way down to the road across from CR 309 C on the outskirts of Palatka. We are looking forward to it being completed.
They have cleaned up the trail since Hurricane Matthew even though there are still some trees down in the woods alongside the trail. There is minor flooding in one part of the trail between Grandin and Putnam Hall, but you can easily drive your bike through it. It's still beautiful and now has water in fields that were previously dry and now look like lakes!
Lots of hurricane damage and closed sections between Palatka and Florahome.
Very nice trail, especially from Florahome to Key Stone Heights. One section has some minor flooding but it easily waded especially if you take your shoes and socks off.
The section from Palatka to about 6 miles west of the town has yet to be started.
This bike trail is very shady most of the way, with nice sunny spots in between. One BIG plus is that the asphalt is not full of tree roots like some other trails we have been on. It is very smooth and well maintained. We rode on a Saturday morning, yet only saw a few other riders. We parked at Florahome next to a bathroom which is pretty clean. There is soap inside but you have to go outside to use a spicket. There are two benches and a place to park and lock your bike. The trail is the most quiet between Grandin and Putnam Hall, but we loved the trail between Florahome and Palatka as well. We will definitely be back, highly recommend this trail.
The correct parking lot address is 6065 S Twinlake Rd. I walked this about 1 PM. I took the path to the left coming out of the parking lot. The path was not to noisy the first 2 plus miles but then the path curved next to the highway which was pretty noisy specially that time of day. It also changed from asphalt to cement for about a mile then back to asphalt. The was lots of coverage with trees from the sun when the path was asphalt but no coverage when it was asphalt. The was not really any mile markers to speak of but the path way was free from debris.
My husband and I had so much fun. The path was smooth. We were easily able to ride side by side. Nice ride to a near by park.
We rode 42 miles round-trip from Roberts Lane (easy to park) to Keystone Heights today. This was from endpoint to endpoint, with a look around in Keystone Heights. It is a well-marked, well-maintained trail, shaded in most areas. We carried our own water and stopped for lunch at Keystone Heights Hometown Restaurant for more of the local flavor.
Rode from Keystone to Roberts Ln ( where the pavement ends ) and back to Keystone. Very nice, smooth, only saw 3 other cyclists and about 6 walkers! Really appreciate the scenery, farmland, cattle, horses, lots of birds. This is real gem. Looking forward to additional miles being added.
We rode the trail today from the Trailhead just west of Keystone Heights to Grandin and back. Very nice, smooth, well maintained trail. We were on our road bikes and the trail was perfect for them. Much to our disbelief we only saw 2 other cyclist. We will certainly ride it again!
We started at McDonalds in Keystone Heights and rode all the way east to pavement end just past Roberts Rd. On the return trip we passed McDonalds and picked up the last few miles before returning to our start point. Quiet ride with few other cyclists and even fewer walkers. Perfect trail if you ride a recumbent trike.
42 mile round trip, lots of shade, lots of wildlife.
The Withalacoochee remains my favorite trail in Florida but this is an admirable 2nd place. Very quiet except for the few miles exposing Hwy 100 and such a nice place to eat at the Keystone hometown restaurant which has some of the best fried chicken ever. Not much elevation which is nice and lots of shade and scenic beauty.
The trail is excellent. Smooth, mostly straight and long with small grades. Interesting store in Florahome along the trail. Takes you back in time.
Nice ride except for one little glitch. We began our ride at the corner of Roberts Ln. and 100. The current trail head. We notice a handwritten sign in the parking area that said "Bad Dog." We didn't know where or which direction so we started west on the trail. In about a quarter mile we heard these barks coming from the distance and suddenly 3 large puppies and a large dog was upon us, nipping at our heels barking and chasing us very close in and looking like they were trying to bite our legs. Needless to say it was very scary for my wive. And,being the macho male, I have to admit it gave me some concern also.
Other than that I would recommend the trail and give it 5 stars.
This was a great trail to ride in Feb. However, the Twin Lakes parking area has an incorrect address. Our GPS took us to someone's home at 6065 Twin Lakes Rd. The parking area for the trail is found by turning at the 1st right on Twin Lakes Rd. The parking is by a soccer/baseball field. Hope this will help anyone else in search of the parking area.
My husband and I stopped here to bike on our way from Sarasota to St. Augustine and had a lovely 30 mile ride. There are places to get water and use bathrooms along the way- we started at the Palatka end and rode 15 miles out and back. Only saw 6 other cyclists. Nothing exceptional in the way of scenery, but worth the stop!
We ride the Keystone to Palatka rail-trail often. I'm always surprised there aren't more cyclist on this beautiful asphalt paved Trail. This trail is always clean and the pavement wide, even the trestles are a smooth, pleasant crossing.
For a road bike enthusiast this trail succesfully provides a fairly long length of smooth pavement with virtually no traffic and few crossings to worry about. The 40+ mile round trip makes it worth your while. An extra is a path to Gold Head Branch off SR21 going N, all paved with a few easy hills, for 8+ more miles.
The parking at each end is limited. On the west end at Keystone Heights try the lot between AutoZone and McDonalds for a safe place to leave your car.
There are bathrooms/rest area and bins for each end of the trail for your GU and energybar wrappers and trash... So far this great trail is pristine. Occasionally you will see creature scat, gopher turtle holes, see lots of buzzards soar and maybe hear a hawk screech. Last week we thought we saw an eagle flying overhead. Gotta love it
We parked at Roberts Ln. Felt safe leaving the car as the parking area was very open and next to the road. We rode out 5 miles and the ride was a breeze. Even though it was unseasonably hot for December we didn't even break a sweat. We plan to park at Halloway Rd. Next time to get further up the tr
We started at Palatka and rode to end of trail just past Keystone at return. Total length round trip is 41.5 miles. Trail condition is excellent. Restroom at Dover field is very nice. This is about 15 miles west of Palatka. About 75 percent is under partial tree canopy
This trail is obviously not finished. The main access point is in the middle of the trail. The short end goes to the northeast through a pine forest with nice sun and ends just before I-95.
The southwest portion is along the highway for a bit but then enters a nice shaded run through the forest. It is very shaded and would be the best section to ride on a sunny hot day. It ends at a highway intersection.
It's a very nice trail with great surface, and it was not very busy midweek.
Only down point is there are no amenities along the trail except benches and no restrooms.
I look forward to riding it again when it goes all the way into St.
We rode the eastern section of the trail today starting at Roberts Lane just west of Palatka off Rt 100. There is a parking lot for the trail at Roberts Lane, and the trail ends a few hundred feet to the east of the lot. We rode west seven miles to the Florahome Trailhead, where we found a clean restroom, parking and a bike tire pump. It is a beautiful, shady stretch of trail.
Rode the trail today with Putnam Blueways & Trails CSO Sunday Bike & Eat. Great ride perfect weather & awesome company. Rode to the western end of the trail west of Keystone Heights all the way to State Road 100. The new section of trail is really nice, they did a great job!! Whoop whoop over 20 miles of continuous paved trail now!!
A new 1.5 mile extension of trail has begun and should be completed by the end of 2014. It will extend the trail 1.5 miles westward of SE57 St. back to State Road 100. This extension is west of Keystone Heights. After completion there will be almost 21 miles of paved trail from Roberts Lane on the east end back to State Road 100 on the west end.
Great trail come out and enjoy it!!!
I haven't done much on a bike on this trail but I do frequently walk it from the trail head at Twin Lakes Park and also starting in town from Wendy's parking lot. If you want a less public walk start at the trail head in the evening. Even on an August evening it was cooler walking here than in downtown Keystone Heights. There are also some Geocaches on this trail. It is a delight to walk down this trail and notice all the gopher holes. It is well maintained as far as debris is concerned and I look forward to being able to hike the entire path one day.
If you would like to help support this part of the trail, consider a membership with the Citizen's Support Organization from Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, who manages this section. For more information call (352)473-4701 or email at GoldHead-CSO@BellSouth.net.
I started at the Twin Lake park and headed toward Palaka. There was plenty of parking. The restroom was clean. Two big pluses at a trailhead. The trail was good and there was lots of shady spot on this 97 deg day. I rode 13 mile and was taken by the scenic vistas. I even had to swerve around a snake. My one complaint about 10 miles from the park there was a fair amount of debris on the trail in the form on pine needles and small sticks.
This is an awesome trail that began to take form in 1991 and is part of an larger 101mi trail from Lake City to St. Augustine. For a connection to active use and events - search FB for Putnam Blueways and Trails CSO group and for information on the continued development search FB for Lake City to St. Augustine Trail group. Continue to thank your local, state, and national leaders. We need more funds and support. If you need direct assistance - drop me a note - email@example.com
The ride was peaceful and enjoyable. Not many crossovers and well paved. We went on a Sunday and it was not crowded.
Rode the 18 miles that are paved between Keystone Heights and north of Palatka on Sunday February 16th. It was a beautiful day and a great trail with a good paved surface and a variety in scenery. Looking forward to further development ( soon I hope, I'm not getting any younger)
Beautiful new trail, new pavement, in the woods and alongside pastures with cows and horses and country views. There are ponds and creeks with bridges to cross. Occasional highway crossings with convenience stores nearby. The trail is off the road from several hundred feet to deep in the woods. A local shop along the trail has a good variety of homemade goodies, and other snacks and drinks. Could easily walk, run, rollerblade, or bicycle this trail... Highly recommend
This is a very nice trail. I rode Eastward from a park in Keystone to a marker that said 21.5 miles and the Markers were counting back to zero. I may be mistaken but it looks like this trail may be 35 or 40 miles in length once it is completed. My wife and I travel to Florida two or three times each year to ride their many wonderful trails. This trail will be on the list to ride again.
Just a quick update. The new 4.5 miles of trail east of Holloway Road is now finished. And the repairs are finished west of Holloway Road. So there is about 19 miles of paved trail from the east end at Roberts Lane to the western end through Keystone Heights to SE 57th St.
The new section turned out really nice. Not as many street crossings.
There is a lot of room for parking on the east end at Roberts Lane. Just beware that at certain times of the year logging trucks may park there also. Just be sure to leave room for them.
If you have a mountain bike there is also room for a few cars to park at the State Road 100 entrance to Etoniah Creek State Forest. You could ride some paved trails and then venture off into the forest on the service roads. They are usually pretty hard packed with not too much sand. But horses are also ridden in the forest, so they can get tore up a little bit. If you veer to the left when you go in the forest there is a very scenic creek crossing about 1.5 miles down.
There is also room for a 4 or 5 vehicles to park where the trail crosses Holloway Road too.
Parking at the east end and riding to Keystone Heights is fun. Lots of good places to eat in Keystone.
The construction is finished west of Grandin now. So the trail is open and paved all the way from the light in Florahome to SE 57th street west of Keystone Heights.
From the same traffic light in Florahom to Holloway Rd. is closed for repairs now though. A trail head parking area is also being constructed in Florahome. Not sure when either project is supposed to be finished. But I'll post again when it's done.
The good news is that the NEW 4.5 mile section east of Holloway road is all finished and paved. Looks really nice and is very scenic. So sometime later this fall when the repairs are done there will be almost 19 miles of paved trail. (not including the 6 mile trail up to Gold Head Start Park along State Road 21)
We rode this trail this morning out of Keystone Heights; about six or seven miles in, we encountered our first construction sign, we continued only to encounter several more and one looked to go on for quite a distance in which there was no pavement and very stoney road not at all suitable for a road bike with skinny tires. We ended up turning around and rode our miles on the first section of the trail which is quite pleasant. I would recommend that if you ride with skinny tires, wait until the project is finished before you ride
Very pleasant ride today, our group enjoyed the ride through Florida farms and woodlands. Construction (previously discussed in 3/13 review) will take time to be completed but easy to ride or walk your bike through, don't let the ROAD CLOSED SIGNS deter you!
Parking was a breeze at the Keystone Heights shopping center with a McDonalds for refreshment and restrooms. The trail is right there, real easy access, easy to find. We went East from there, there were convenience/ gas stations on SR 100 that was very near the trail but would suggest you bring your water/ enough food to keep you going. Several people in our group had smart phones, nice tool to have to see where you are and to find services.
After the ride, we drove to Palatka and had a late lunch/dinner at Corkys Restaurant. Excellent choice for our group, eating outside overlooking St John River.
I frequently use the Lake Butler portion of this trail either biking or a casual walk, enjoying the scenery and occasional deer. The trail in Lake Butler features a paved parking area off of SR238 and it ventures southeastward, through town and then you enter the wooded area. There are two bridges that cross over Lake Butler Creek and Richard Creek. Once you pass the second bridge it is primarily wooded until about mile marker 3 where it passes behind the Gillmans Lumber Mill. Further down near CR237, there are some beautiful pastures then the paved portion ends. If you continue on past CR237, you will come to the old railroad trestle that crosses New River, that runs between Union and Bradford Counties. It is impassable though, rotted out bad.
A section of the trail between Grandin & Putnam Hall is in the process of being repaired right now (3/10/13). They are repairing an area where the pavement kept cracking. I am not sure when it is supposed to be done but I would imagine it will take a couple of months. I will post an update when I see that it is finished.
In other news... Construction has started on the next section of trail to be paved east of Holloway Road. When done this will add another 4+ miles of paved trail!! Again not sure when it will be completed but I will post another update when it is.
I took a ride Dec 5 2012 since I had seen that there were trail signs in Lake Butler. It's paved for about 4 miles, starting at the parking area near SW 4th Ave and SW 1st St and heading east. There are lots of road crossings in town, but it settles down pretty quickly. For now, the paved part dead ends at CR 237. Unpaved trail extends eastward, although there's a pretty rough bridge not too far east and that looks like that's where even most mountain bikers will want to stop for now until they improve it.
It looks like it's going to be really nice; I enjoyed the parts I was on, and the unpaved bit starts to cross through some nice wetlands.
As a bonus, CR237 is a dead end road to the south and so it is very quiet, and it has some nice pastures, open views, and large houses. To the north, it runs into SR 100, which would take folks who want a loop ride back into Lake Butler, though I would probably just go up and down 237 and then back on the trail. It's maybe 2.8 miles one-way from SR100 to the dead end where the gate is, so you can get a nice 11-12 mile ride out of this with almost no traffic.
This is a great trail that is about 9 miles from my home. I ride there almost every Sunday afternoon/evening with a group from Putnam Bicycles in Palatka. No matter what time of day you ride, at least part of the trail will be shaded. There are several gas stations and convenience stores right off of the trail, just in case you need a drink or food. There is parking, bathrooms, drinking fountain & a covered pavilion with a picnic table at Twin Lakes Park just east of Keystone Heights. The plans have been submitted and approved for a pavilion and bathrooms to be built at Holloway Road (east end of the paved section).. Funding for the the project hasn't happened yet as far as I know though. If 14 miles isn't quite enough for you (28 miles out and back), there is a 6 mile paved trail that leads up to Gold Head State Park, it goes north from the light in Keystone Heights.
The info for this trail needs to be updated. I drove through Lake Butler today and the trail is paved and in place but I do not know what portions are complete. Someone who is using this trail would do a great service to potential users by letting us know what's in place now.
Enjoyed the unusually warm January weather to try out the trail. Drove in from Fleming Island to park at the Keystone Ace Hardware to ride toward Palatka. We found the trail to be more scenic and less crowded than the Baldwin trail in Jax and more scenic than the Nature Coast trail we did some 10 days ago. We road the 8 miles of
paved section from Ace to Grandin and about 5 miles to and a little past Florahome on the graded and very hard section that they are preparing for paving. Very pleasant. On the way back, we at our sandwiches at Twin Lakes park. The trail does not yet have the benches and trash cans of other rail trails trails in Florida but will come in times. Besides Keystone, restrooms are at the Twin Lakes park and three mini-marts between Keystone and Florahome.
We parked at the Ace Hardware and began our ride towards Palatka. It was a very nice trail and near Twin Lakes there was a restroom for me lady to use. We really enjoyed the trail. It was quiet and quite peaceful. Lots of shade (much needed here in FLA...lol). We cannot wait until the next leg is finished. Very nice trail.
The next 4.5 miles of the trail is scheduled to be paved in the fall of 2011. It will go east from Grandin about 4.5 miles to Holloway road. Most of this section will be shaded even in the midday summer sun (unless they go crazy and cut down all of the trees). The ranger station for Entoniah State Forest is a bit further down Holloway road. There are hiking & some mountain biking trails and primitive camping in the forest. Just make sure to check at the station first. Some of the forest is closed off during hunting season.
On a side note: Be careful crossing at the light in Keystone Heights. The city/town redid the crossing and made it more dangerous for trail users, in my opinion. The trail crossing used to go straight across, but now you kind of have to veer towards the traffic when riding west to east on the trail.
Enjoy this trail now. It will even get better as the weather cools. This trail provides a wonderful chance to enjoy a ride thru North Central Florida's rural, lake, pine forest, and prairie environment. And do it NOW because as soon as the economy comes back, this area will change. But STAY ON THE TRAIL. The trail is beautiful, but property on both sides is PRIVATE! Don't be tempted by anything resembling a side trail. Be a courteous, respectful and stay on the trail and enjoy your ride. We're all so lucky to have access to this trail. Obtaining right of way was probably not easy. You can get on this trail from Twin Lakes Park as Traillink.com suggests or downtown Keystone Heights (park in a shopping center) or on the current east terminus, at Grandin. It's easy access from Gainesville, Melrose, Hawthorne, Keystone Heights, and Grandin is only 15 miles Palatka!
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