The St. Johns River runs broad and deep near Green Cove Springs, where Bayard Point Conservation Area preserves an untouched Florida riverfront, bottomland floodplain with dense stands of bald cypress, sweet gum, and red maples.
More than 15 miles of trails wander through the John P. Hall Nature Preserve portion of the conservation area – the only part that’s off-limits to hunting – and by using the hiking trail and one of the equestrian trails, you can discover the beauty of the river for yourself. This is a prime destination for wildlife watching. An observation platform lets you view deer and wild turkey from above. Along the riverbank, green herons and little blue herons pick at minnows and shellfish in the shallows near a broad bed of blue flag iris. Two campsites provide the possibility of an overnight adventure.
The blue-blazed trail is hiking only, although it crosses paths with a multi-use trail several times. Equestrian trails are marked with colored diamonds. The trails flood easily after a rain. Since I first hiked this trail, a golf course has been built along one edge of the preserve and is visible from the blue blazed trail. Since the current St. Johns Water Management District map only shows equestrian trails, the blue-blazed trail may not be well-maintained.