Rice Creek Conservation Area Trails

EASY 32 reviews

Rice Creek Conservation Area Trails is a 5 mile lightly 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.

5.0 miles
16 feet


mountain biking






over grown

no dogs

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.

1 month ago

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

2 months ago

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.

3 months ago

Excellent trail run thur the swampy waters!

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

6 months ago

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.

7 months ago

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.

7 months ago

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

7 months ago

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.

8 months ago

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.

9 months ago

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

9 months ago

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

Monday, April 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.

Tuesday, March 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,

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It’s wet!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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

Saturday, February 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.

Wednesday, January 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..

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'm glad I came back. But be warned it's the rainy season. You'll have to go through calf deep water just to get to the forest. Then a good 25% of the trails are underwater. Not even ankle deep. But you'll be sloshing along. A gator scampered off the trail by 10 feet in front of me. In to the water. The two-story Cabin is worth seeing. And all the bridges are just amazing. The Florida trail people do a fantastic job. Oh and thanks to brother Jim for the trekking poles they came in handy seriously

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I did not get to spend much time here. But I'll definitely be back. You have to walk a half-mile in to get to the wooded part and two small sections of calf Deepwater. But the forest looks very interesting. Lots of spiderwebs and mosquitoes. But I really want to see the big cypress on my next visit.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I put this between three and four stars. It's definitely worth doing, but I probably wouldn't need to do it a second time. Quite an isolated trail (we didn't see a single other soul) and very dense for the first half before you get to the loop. Stick it out until you get to the loop, though, as it's worth it. The 8th largest Florida cypress is quite a sight. We also spotted five itty-bitty baby gators swimming in the creek. The 28 "bridges" over the rice field ditch dikes were interesting, too. After stopping to see the screened-in trail shelter, we continued onto the white trail, and then popped out to the timber road that runs parallel and back to the trailhead and parking area. I just didn't have it in me to re-navigate through that freaky dense part. 5.3 miles in all.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Beautiful hike along the creek, tons of wild life. We were crossing one of the bridges and on the embankment we saw like at least 10 baby gators, apart from that there were lots of birds, salamanders, possibly a boar? and of course plenty of bugs.

The campsite is also worth visiting, even if you're not staying overnight. There's a 2-story shelter that was built, affectionately named "Rice Creek Hilton". It's a great shady place to stop off for lunch or a snack.

The other main waypoint on this loop is the huge cypress tree, I believe the sign said it's the 8th largest in Florida and while you have to view it from a distance, it's definitely big.

This is one of my favorite hikes that I've done in Florida, it's a good challenge over a relatively short distance and of course hiking along part of the Florida Trail is always a bonus :)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Neat long "boardwalk". Lots of animals. Perfect weather.

trail running
3 months ago

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