Rice Creek Conservation Area Trails

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Rice Creek Conservation Area

Rice Creek Conservation Area Trails is a 5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Palatka, Florida that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 5.0 miles Elevation Gain: 16 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

mountain biking

forest

river

wildlife

bugs

muddy

over grown

Rice Creek was once a rice and indigo plantation. It is now floodplain swamp, flatwoods, and mixed forest. The area is also a key parcel for connecting Etoniah State Forest to the Cross Florida Greenway. The area serves as a wildlife corridor, connecting several large natural areas. Natural community diversity supports Florida black bear, white-tailed deer, turkey, river otter, wood duck and diverse migratory songbirds. Trails are rarely used. Wear DEET and carry a branch to clear spider webs. L trail is often muddy; W trail is always flooded. All worth it for Hoffman's Crossing, a 1,886-foot boardwalk.

hiking
bugs
no shade
over grown
4 days ago

The first part is just beautiful..follows part of the Florida Trail. But if you don't want to back track the loop back is open road and pretty hot. So next time I'll just come back the woods trail. Also..I had called the office to check the situation on dogs since it says no dogs. Actually..dogs on leash allowed. Mine had a ton of fun!

Wonderful walk with great company during COVID 19!

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Started just after daybreak in hopes of avoiding the hottest part of the day. The regular trail is hot enough, but the return trip along the forest road provides little respite from the sun. Still, it was a great day in the woods and I can't imagine being somewhere better. Didn't see any gators or snakes or bears though I was carefully looking. Just wasn't my day, I suppose. Mosquitoes weren't bad but the deer flies made mincemeat of my ankles until I really soaked them with bug spray. Watch for the Cypress knees as they are everywhere on this trail and often difficult to distinguish from the leaf litter... until you trip on them. Overall, it was a good hike and I look forward to doing it again soon. I don't understand the complaints about the trail not being well marked. For one thing, the trail is fairly direct, so if you grab one of the maps at the entrance, you should have no trouble finding your way. The turns were well marked as were optional side routes. The trail doesn't get a lot of traffic, but it was easy enough to see the path. I didn't think more marking was needed. I should also point out that the last time I was here was during the wetter part of the year when parts of the trail were impassable. This time of year, the water levels were very low and I could have easily walked on dry ground beside many of the wood bridges. Some of the bridges are several years old and have been waterlogged causing them to get a bit slippery, but if that's what scares you off, there are plenty of other places to go for better bridges. If you do go, be sure to do a bit of research on the area. I always get a charge out of the idea that I am walking paths that were used by farmers and slaves nearly three hundred years ago.

hiking
over grown
1 month ago

First time doing this trail-opted to go alone with my dog and I really wish I would have read the reviews before walking it. The trail was extremely secluded and we didn’t see anyone else out there while walking which I always enjoy. The trail was easy enough to navigate, but was very overgrown and had a ton of spiderwebs and flies, so be sure to use bug spray. I didn’t see any snakes, but I did encounter an alligator that looked to be about 8 feet long. It was too close to the trail to try and get by so I turned around—wasn’t about to risk that. I also heard a lot of movement in the woods from what sounded like a bear. Didn’t get any glimpses of it, but I was a little freaked and ready to head back. All in all the trail was beautiful! Just definitely don’t go alone and check for ticks afterwards:)

Trail not well marked in some areas

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

Was a great experience! We hiked the Florida trail to state road 20 then back to rice creek!

bugs
over grown
6 months ago

Poorly marked, poorly maintained, and overgrown in some areas. It's really a shame because it would otherwise be a great trail.

hiking
9 months ago

I hiked the main trail in about 2.5 miles and then back out. From what I saw was that the trails were not marked all that good except for the florida trail. It was really wet (hurricane dorian) ,from last weeks storm. Walked by the Hilton and the picnic table and the hand pump also a dead big moccasin that someone ran over. Could be a great hike in the winter when it is not so wet and cooler.

hiking
bugs
muddy
11 months ago

I love this trail. And I never see anybody on it. I was quite surprised to see that there was no standing water. Some mud. Mosquitoes weren’t too bad but they were definitely out there. But I am always glad I take my tracking polls. The bridges are slick in some places they put roofing shingles which makes for a better walking. I will check for ticks later on.

hiking
Tue Mar 12 2019

I did the whole trail this time. Or the whole loop. Very muddy. Spent a few minutes I’ve been to Hilton. What a wonderful for a place. As usual no one on the trail

hiking
muddy
Mon Jan 28 2019

I knew it might be wet, because it rained 2 inches yesterday. It was wet! But fun. I’m glad I had my tracking poles. Water was not quitecalf deep and very murky.

Mon Dec 31 2018

Excellent trail run thur the swampy waters!

Sun Dec 23 2018

This has been my " go to" place since I started hiking. You always see something new.

Sun Oct 14 2018

My wife and I decided to compete this jiekbas a way for me to see if it will be a good kick off point for my section hike of the FT. It’s a decent hike, 3.2 stars, not 4, but that’s my two cents. Half of the hike is trail roads, nothing special, but the more wild FT half is great. There’s a clear path, well marked. The trail was dry as of 10/14, but it is obvious that this trail can be pretty wet. We did come across 4 snakes on a 5 mile hike, so be aware, 2 cottonmouths, 1 Pygmy rattlesnake and a green racer (non venomous). We also saw a doe! It was good, but the amount of snakes can be a bit intimidating for some hikers. Just be aware and careful. There’s non potable water sources, so bring a filter and you can fill up o trail.

Sun Sep 16 2018

My husband and I started the trail at 8:45 this morning and finished about 2:00. We love this trail and all you can see. You definitely have to keep your eyes peeled for those nasty little ( not sure if they are pygmy rattle snakes or baby moccasins). Since they are not aggressive at all I tend to believe pygmys. They are beautiful either way. We did see a couple of bear tracks and a gazillion deer and raccoon tracks. So much to see! Extremely muddy today yet the swamp was very low. No gators today which was a bummer. We saw a feisty water moccasin under one of the longer bridges. He was very active and scary. This is one of our favorite trails but be careful.

hiking
Mon Aug 20 2018

Visited rice creek Hilton. Can’t wait until I can stay overnight here sometime. Heard I did not see two different gators as they splashed into the water in anticipation of my arrival. Two snakes. One black. One multi colored. Not large. But they were not backing off. So I gave them a wide berth. Hot. But I wear long sleeved shirts and long pants. And bring the deet. I didn’t think I’d be back here again this year. Love it!! Missed the rain by MiNUTEs’. Update. Found a tick on me. Always look

Mon Aug 20 2018

Great experience today, the trail is slightly muddy and wet in the first third, but not slogging through standing water. Thanks to the volunteers that maintain this trail, I only wish I had the time to link to the FT and continue to Hwy 20 which would have made the hike longer. I would recommend this trail, we had it to ourselves completely, although it was hot and buggy, very scenic and peaceful.

Sun Aug 05 2018

My husband and I just finished and had a blast! Thank God for big spray, the largest and noisiest mosquitoes I have ever seen in my life. Trail was pretty wet but that just made it more interesting. The best hike we have had ssf o far in Northeast Florida. Three alligators two pygmy rattlesnakes and a box turtle, all beautiful. You definitely have to watch were you walk, the little pygmys love playing in the middle of the trail. Getting ready for 10 miles inTallulah Falls so this was great exercise. We are fairly new hikers but have been hitting it hard and this has been our favorite so far. Thank you to those who take good care of the bridges.

hiking
Mon Jul 16 2018

It was hot, muggy, buggy murky. But I love it. Someone wrote on the register when you first go into the tunnel, there was a bear Half Mile in. Sure enough. Big tracks. Also turkey and raccoon. Someday I will camp out in the two-story structure. I do like the solitary nature of this trail..there are white star ticks. I picked a few off

hiking
Mon Jul 09 2018

When I got to the first intersection I took a left, instead of my usual right. For a little over 2 miles it was not very interesting. It must be a road that Hunter is used because there was a little area for them to use. But after 2 miles there is orange markings on the trees! I want to the left for a little bit, but the trail seem to peter out. However there were some interesting walkways made out of tree stumps. So I went back the other way. And meandered around in my usual fashion. And found the rice creek Hilton again! What a neat place. I went up and sat down for a while. By the way the mosquitoes are pretty bad today. You won’t have to slog through any water but it is muggy in places and I was glad to have my tracking polls to keep my balance. There is a sign in sheet at the cabin in the woods. All in all a great day. Also saw tracks in the mud

hiking
Mon Apr 02 2018

I hiked this trail yesterday and it was mostly dry. I was able to complete this hike in sneakers without getting wet. Half of the trail was out in the open while the other half had the kind of forest hiking that drew me to the it. There were no gators but I came across a black snake and a couple of water moccasins . Only one other person on the trail at the time.

hiking
Tue Mar 27 2018

The good news is, if it was not wet it all on the trail. So I did not have to ruin another pair shoes. Our soils do drain rather quickly . The bad news was 2.3 miles in there was a 7 foot gator it was not going to budge from the trail. So I turned around. There are couple things I really wanted to see you again including: the big Cypress and boardwalk, and the two-story cabin. But that’s for another day. It was windy and so I only got bit by two mosquitoes. There was another gator on a bridge it’s Scampered the other way when I approached. However the first one despite cracking my tracking polls together and yelling hey gator, did not want to move it all. I believe I did the right thing.I did not need my polls for water, but they did come in handy when I had to go over a root zone of a very large tree that had toppled over. It looks like the Florida Trail volunteers have done a lot of work since Irma and taking down trees and replace boards on bridges. I do like this alone,

Sat Mar 24 2018

It’s wet!

backpacking
Sun Mar 11 2018

Wonderfully quiet walk. Observed baby gators, hawks, and a few snakes. All in all a great hike 6 miles complete.

hiking
Sat Feb 17 2018

The first part of the hike is boring and muddy. The interesting part is when you get into the swamp on the boardwalks. I was toe deep in water and up to ankle deep after 5 days of no rain. I can't imagine it getting much better than that. I recommend staying on the service road and coming up to the large bald cypress from the back, doing a loop around the boardwalks and the camp grounds and coming back out the way you came in. There's nothing very interesting in the mud track to miss anyway. On the boardwalk I saw a few large, over 6 foot alligators which made me somewhat nervous and I had to shoo away some water snakes. It's a wild swamp so I wouldn't recommend going in there alone, but definitely worth it.

hiking
Wed Jan 31 2018

I’m sure during a dry season it would be better/easier, but as of two days ago, I nearly needed knee high boots instead of my traditional sloggers that I wear, it was very wet after much rain, and the puddles and water on the trails are deceiving! Be careful because you might drop and/or sink down quite a bit stepping into water... besides that obvious note, once inside the trails, outside of the logging and hunting camp roads, it is really beautiful.. I wish there were more historical notes included in brochure or along the way, would love to get my bearings and envision where the Plantation actually would’ve been..

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