I love hiking with my daughter. But unlike dad, her little legs get tired after a mile or two. That effectively cuts out a lot of the hiking trails I like to frequent. Finding a short trail that allows camping is even tougher. And to find all of those things in a beautiful place nearby-well that might be impossible. Or at least I thought it was until we hiked the Etoniah Creek State Forest.
Located 12 miles west of Palatka, Florida off of SR 100, the Holloway Road Trailhead is on located on the road of the same name. Follow the signs down the dirt road about 3 miles to reach the parking area. An equestrian area, picnic tables and restrooms are available at the trailhead.
This one way trail is actually a section of the Florida National Scenic Trail. It slowly meanders through some of the prettiest areas in the North Central Florida corridor. Bluffs, gorges and old growth forests dominate this region, so plenty of great views are constantly in site as you and your children hike this easy to follow trail.
The Falling Branch Ravine is one of the first areas you have to cross. It’s a great place to let the kids explore and enjoy the scenery. Best of all, it is only about a mile and a half into the hike. Let the kids get worn out!
The Iron Bridge and Iron Bridge Shelter are at the end of this brisk 1.8 mile hike. The old iron bridge crosses Etoniah Creek and allows easy access to this scenic river. There is also a small primitive campsite next to the bridge and shelter that offers an extra space to spend the night if the shelter is full.
The best free campsite ever. This awesome single room cabin offers and enclosed porch and sleeping area, perfect for those youngsters (or adults) who might still be a little afraid to sleep in the tent. All in all, this easy hike is perfect for kids and adults alike who want a short hike with all of the benefits of a long one.