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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 about 28 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.
In Keystone Heights, travelers can 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.
Northwest of Keystone Heights in Hampton, there is a 2.2-mile section of the trail. Running south from 36th Avenue to the intersection of Navarre Street/SE County Road 18 and Spruce Street, the paved trail is 12-feet wide as it passes through woods, fields, and farm land.
Slightly northwest of Hampton, another 4 miles of trail are open in the city of Lake Butler. When these three 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. Design work is underway to close the gaps.
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.
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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