April 24, 2023
Biking & Hiking Adventures in Clay County
Nestled along the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida, Clay County is known for its vast waterways, nature trails and rich history. Whether you are into biking nature trails, the open road or racing against fellow competitors, Clay County offers a variety of options for those interested in exploring the area on two wheels.
Black Creek Park and Trail
One of Clay County’s most popular biking spots is the Black Creek Park and Trail. Adjacent to Highway 17, this 8-mile paved path connects bikers and walkers to points between Orange Park, Fleming Island and Green Cove Springs. Black Creek Park serves as a starting/ending location with parking, a covered pavilion and restrooms. The park also serves as the starting point for the mountain bike course that runs two miles through the park. Existing trailheads are at Black Creek Park, Thunderbolt Park and Camp Chowenwaw County Park.
Palatka-to-Lake-Butler State Bike Trail
In Keystone Heights, cyclists can join in on the Palatka-to-Lake-Butler State Bike Trail. This 47-mile trail connects west of U.S. 17 in Palatka to State Road 238 in Lake Butler, as it runs along the former Norfolk-Southern Railroad right-of-way through Putnam, Clay, Bradford, and Union counties. This cycling path was deemed part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System in 2007 and purchased with preservation funds through the Florida Greenways and Trails Acquisition Program.
Open Ride Bicycles
For those interested in renting (or even buying!) a bike during their visit to Clay County, Open Road Bicycles of Fleming Island is ready to assist cyclists. Knowledgeable professionals can help with repairs, talking ‘shop’ or even suggesting popular cycling spots throughout the area. Whether you looking to ride trails, open roads or just cruise around the area, their passion for biking is contagious and they are ready to help make your time in the area a success.
Jennings State Forest
If you’d rather spend time hiking the trails, plan a visit to Jennings State Forest, between Middleburg and Oakleaf on the westside of Clay County. The 16-mile Dunns Farm Trail Complex includes 3 hiking trails: The Pioneer Trail with scenic vistas, elevation changes, history and beautiful natural overlooks of Black Creek; The Dunns Farm Trail with waterfalls and elevation changes; and The Cross-Cut Trail with rolling terrain, history and interpretive signage. Each of these trails offers a primitive, backcountry hike within camp zones.
Jennings State Forest is also home to the Fire and Water Nature Trail which guides hikers on an interpretive adventure with signage explaining the dynamic force of fire and water and how it has shaped and continues to shape the landscape of Florida. The seven-mile Sandridge Trail, offers hikers an immersive look into the Longleaf Pine and Wiregrass ecosystem which dominated the Florida landscape years ago, complete with open rolling hill vistas in winter to flowering grasses and shrubs in the springtime.
Clay County welcomes visitors to explore our small towns with big passions. Where is your favorite place for biking in Clay County?