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Rolling out of the city’s west side, the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail offers a slice of quiet paradise, journeying more than 25 miles to Keystone Heights through well-canopied forests, pine flatwoods, picturesque countryside and wet prairies. Travelers might see black bears, white-tailed deer, bobcats, turkeys, snakes and even one of Florida’s most famed inhabitants, alligators.
Farther northwest, another 4 miles of trail are open in the city of Lake Butler; though it’s disconnected from the rest, design work is underway to close the 15-mile gap. When these two paved sections are connected, they’ll form a 47-mile trail through this former Norfolk-Southern Railroad right-of-way traversing Putnam, Clay, Bradford and Union counties.
On the southern end of the trail, only a 2.5-mile gap stands between it and the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail. Together, with an additional planned 25-mile trail between Lake Butler and Lake City, these trails will form the developing 101-mile Lake City-to-St. Augustine Rail Trail.
In Keystone Heights, travelers can also make a connection to a spur trail to travel 7 miles to Gold Head Branch State Park, which offers a wealth of amenities and recreational opportunities, including camping and an equestrian trail.
The three main parking lots for the trail are: Florahome Trailhead (105 Coral Farms Road, Florahome), Twin Lakes Park Trailhead (6065 Twin Lakes Road, Keystone Heights) and the Lake Butler Trailhead (525 SW 1st St., Lake Butler). Limited parking is also available near the community of Putnam Hall at the intersection of Forest Hills Road and SR 100.
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