San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, Fl
* all photos my own unless otherwise indicated
San Felasco Hammock Preserve & Devils Millhopper can both be found on Millhopper Road (CR232), just northwest of Gainesville. This map directs you to San Felasco Hammocks. As you head west along the CR 232 coming from Gainesville, you first pass Devils Millhopper State Park on the right. Four miles on you will find San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park. Located on the left side of the road, the entrance is easy to miss as the sign is not very prominant.
The Park is open from 8:00 a.m. to Sundown, 365 days a year including all holidays.
As you can read in my blog post about this trip, we didn’t set out to visit this park. However, it was a welcome find on what was turning out to be a disappointing day!
To ensure solitude and quiet for a true wilderness experience, the southern two-thirds of the park is designated for hiking only. This site is the trailhead for the hiking areas. The parking area is unpaved but is a pretty good size. Payment is on the honor system and you should have exact change. As you enter the park trails area, there are a couple of “port-a-pottys” which were actually clean and well kept. You will also find a picninc pavillion and a kiosk that offers park information and trail maps. The park and trails are excellently maintained due to the dedication of the “Friends of San Felasco”, and everything is well signposted.
At over 7,000 acres, San Felasco Hammock Preserve is one of the largest protected contiguous stands of mesic hammock in Florida and has one of the few remaining mature forests in Florida. The limestone outcrops and extreme changes in elevation provide ideal conditions for many species of hardwood trees.
Not that we were priileged to see any but according to the literature, bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, turkeys, and many species of songbirds make their homes in the 18 natural communities found in the preserve.
The park is zoned for different recreation uses, the most popular portions of the park are the hiking trails and the off-road bicycle trails, which can be accessed from Alachua. A large and rambling network of equestrian trails run in a series of connected loops criss-crossing the bike trails and accessed from the same trailhead.
Having spent the first part of the day at Devils Millhopper, we didn’t have time to do much ore that just a small portion of the hiking trails. We chose to explore the 1 mile Moonshine Creek Trail and were not disappointed. The weather was unusally autumnal for Florida so the temperature was great and the overcast skies gave lighting that popped the colors really well in pictures!
Fun fact; The creek was named during the prohibition when it became the site of a moonshine still providing illegal alcohol to citizens of Alachua County!
The trail was easy to walk, with just gentle rises and unchallenging descents.
For more informative detail about the trees and vegetation to be found along this trail please visit this page at Floridahikes.com
We did not take it but the start of Creek Sink Trail is halfway through the Moonshine Creek Trail. Taking this trail will increase your hike to 2.3 miles. This trail goes around the swamps and bottomland forest where the waters of the creek, at the southernmost part of the trail, are absorbed into the underlying aquifer.