Explore NE FLORIDA on the Willie Browne Trail
at the Theodore Roosevelt Area in the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve

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most recent modification 20-Feb-2001

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      Driving Instructions
 The Theodore Roosevelt Area is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. More than 600 acres of rolling woodlands from the creeks and marshes to the east up to the sandy vegetated dunes in the north. Several ponds and a creek are in the area. A wildlife viewing platform overlooks Round Marsh and St. Johns Creek. Shell middens are numerous along the eastern edge.
   This land was donated by Willie Browne to be kept as a preserve.
NEW - : These pages about the Willie Browne Trail are new! [ 20 Feb 2001 ]
- if you have any comments, pictures or other contributions please send a message using the Contact form on the link near the end of the page.
The material on this page is copyrighted 2001 by C.Kling and is from the forthcoming book "Discovering North East Florida on the Trails".
 

Click Here to see a larger detailed trail map.

      Hiking:   There are several trails which can be combined in different ways to provide walks from a short evening stroll to a several hour event.
   The Sierra Club outings led by C. Carter usually cover all the main trails, for a combined length of around 4.5 milesby following these directions. Proceed from the trailhead parking lot along the Willie Browne Trail, with a short stop at Hammock Creek to see the tadpoles and small fish. Then take the left fork of the trail past the cemetery to Spanish Pond Trail. Heading West along Spanish Pond trail you slowly gain elevation and come out of the tall Oaks and Pines into a more sandy area with shorter Oaks of another species, Palms and shrub plants.
A side trip to Alligator Pond is usually an enjoyable stop. For the last three years no alligators have been sighted. The water is so low due to the drought. But many birds are heard and scene around the low-level pond. Common birds here include Piliated Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Redwinged Blackbird, Yellowthroat, Eastern Kingbird, gnatcatchers, some sandpipers, and other shorebirds, and many songbirds.
    Return back out to the main trail and continue west to, and around, Spanish Pond (about 12 minutes to the east edge of the pond). Some areas as you walk along the south side of the pond are still quite muddy, so watch your step. A 300 foot boardwalk has recently been completed reducing your exposure to the mud. Depending on the water level in the pond, you may see egrets, herons, and other wading birds. Last spring there was a gnatcatcher nest right over the walkway from the parking lot. Ospreys, hawks, vultures are almost always soaring above.
    Retrace you route around the pond and back into the woods to return to just west of the cutoff to Alligator Pond (about 0.6 miles) and turn left onto the Timucuan Trail. This trail travels through the woods and gains elevation some more as you climb some old dunes (near or part of St. John's Bluff) until you reach several points you can look out to the NE over St. John's Creek and "Dredge Spoil Island" to the St. Johns River. From here the trail descends to the east toward the marshes. As you get to the edge of the marsh (still 10 to 20 feet above the creek) the trail turns south along the creek. Soon after this point, as your decent continues, you will start to see many shells in the soil. These shell mounds, called middens, are where the Timucuans piled shells and other discards over many years while eating the abundant fish and shellfish in the estuaries.
    Eventually you will reach the level of the water on the edge of Round Marsh and a small peninsula separating it from the creek. Proceed out the peninsula to the wildlife viewing platform. From the top of the steps you get a great view of both Round Marsh to the SW as well as the creeks and marshes of Chicopit Bay and the St. Johns River and Creek to the east and north. Fish and river otters are in the creek, and numerous birds, from ducks to herons, owls, and hawks are always around. Look in the reeds, the trees, and the sky.
    As you go back off the shell peninsula, turn left (west) to continue the rest of the Timucuan trail to the point it meets the Willie Browne Loop at the old cabin site. Stop and read about the man who enjoyed and loved this area so much that he left it as a preserve for all to enjoy and preserve as he did. Back in the tall forest, head south for your return along the Willie Browne loop to the trailhead parking.
   There are picnic tables at the trail head to relax after your walk. Pack out all of your trash.
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      Driving Instructions
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