The 150 acres of Bulow Plantation Ruins stand as a monument to the rise and fall of sugar plantations in East Florida. In 1836, the Second Seminole War swept away the prosperous Bulow Plantation where the Bulow family grew sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo. Ruins of the former plantation, a sugar mill, a unique spring house, several wells and the crumbling foundations of the plantation house and slave cabins show how volatile the Florida frontier was in the early 19th century. Today, a scenic walking trail leads visitors to the sugar mill ruins, listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The park has picnic facilities and an interpretive center that tells the plantation's history. A boat ramp provides access for canoes and small powerboats to scenic Bulow Creek, a designated state canoe trail. Anglers can fish from the dock or a boat.
Found this beautiful place while on a beach vacation. I can only handle so many days of staring at the surf with a beer in hand, so I did a little searching and tackled this trail on a muggy Florida day. Amazing trail, swampy and primordial. The flora was spectacular--huge live oaks in every direction, interspersed with swamps and scrubland. I truly felt transported to a pre-human era. Such a wonderous place, although the 5 or 6 huge black snakes I saw along the trail creeped me out a bit! Don't do this trail if you don't like reptiles!
This makes a nice hike for a day when you're up for covering substantial distances, but want the trail conditions relatively easy. Yes, there will probably be some muddy and puddly stretches near the trail's north end, and yes you'll probably want insect repellent, but, well, this is Florida after all! We hiked this one as a there-and-back (about 13.5 miles) and found it a pleasant break from the Florida Trail sections we'd hiked inland earlier in the week--those were wilder and more remote, which is great, but they're often challenging to follow, and when they're flooded they're really, reeeaaally flooded. If you want to hike this as a there-and-back, I'd suggest starting from the south end (Bulow Creek State Park, which is free), where there are toilets and some beautiful old live oaks to gaze at as you gulp your drink before hitting the trail. There's a small free trailhead parking area at the north end, too (Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park), but don't count on wandering beyond it unless you plan to pay to tour the ruins--they're very strict about that. There's good birding in the canopied stretches of the trail, lots of lovely old-growth oaks and magnolias, and some interesting ferns and cycads as well. FloridaHikes.com has a decent trail description and map: http://floridahikes.com/bulowcreek.
You have to be extremely careful with this trail. First off, if you go in the hight of mosquito season, you may want to skip this trail. We hit the trail after two days of light rain and it was a beast. Bug spray helped but they still got me through my shoes - lesson learned about treating socks - and my shirt (need to treat ahead of time). On top of that, the trail was flooded in multiple locations. If the trail had been dry or I hadn't been hiking leading a youth group through the woods, the trail would have been a wonderful challenge and experience. I'm rating it three stars for the poor trail conditions and the high propensity for mosquito attacks.
An easy trail. I hiked 6 1/2 miles from north to south. Starting at Bulow Plantation to Fairchild Oaks where I had left my car. If I didn't have a friend to help with transportation the round trip would have been 13 miles. The start is shaded by a heavy canopy and this time dry because of the long drought. The first bridge was over a dry creek the others were very low and hardly necessary. I've hiked this trail previously and the bridges were convenient. About one third of the way The trail crosses The Cisco Ditch, part natural, part manmade. Much of the trail is a maintenance/fire trail with little cover and requires sun screen. Just a bit before Boardman Rd. is a short spur trail to the west the Boardman Observation Platform on a pond with many water fowl which made a good lunch stop. A bit further the trail crosses Boardman Rd. and the canopy returns. Then comes a junction the west leg (yellow blaze) leads to substantial bridge over Bulow Creek and on to Fairchild Oaks the east leg (red blaze) is a loop leading back to the junction. The trail ends at Fairchild Oaks with its ancient Oak. I saw many birds, wild hogs, squirrels and, turtles and snakes as well as fish in the waters. The trail has recently been cleared and blazes repainted, easy to follow. Vandalism has closed the primitive camp site. All said it is a great, not challenging day hike