St. Francis Trail

MODERATE 12 reviews
#6 of 12 trails in

St. Francis Trail is a 9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Beresford, Florida that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
82 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

wildlife

bugs

St. Francis once a thriving pioneer town on the west bank of the St. Johns River, originally known as "Old Town", was founded in 1887. In its heyday, the town supported a weekly newspaper, "The Florida Facts", a post office, a general store, a hotel, a warehouse with roomy wharves, a sanitarium and health resort, numerous residences, and several hundred acres of citrus trees. Residents of the area brought logs and citrus by ox-drawn wagons to St. Francis for shipping on the river. Steamboats brought goods and supplies for settlements throughout north Lake County. The development of railroads caused travel and shipping on the St. Johns River to fade away. This, combined with the devastating freeze of 1894, spelled the doom of St. Francis. Constructed to explore the paths of yesteryear, St. Francis Trail takes you through six different ecosystems. The sounds of red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers and red-winged blackbirds my greet you. Look for stands of sabal palms, riverine swamps, and majestic live oaks you will encounter. Explore parts of an old levee, built to flood an area for rice cultivation. You will experience flatwoods dominated by slash pines and palmetto. Discover an undisturbed spring in its natural setting, and walk along an old logging railroad bed. Investigate nature and the signs that wildlife leave behind …a paw print or a feather. Enjoy an adventure through the forest to the "Old Town" ghost…St. Francis!

camping
7 days ago

We completed the east portion of the trail and camped by the river at St Francis in mid January. West part of the trail was still too wet and muddy, so we returned back the same way we came avoiding the swampy part of the loop.
Weather was beautiful with 55 during the day and 39 degrees at night. Starry night sky, beautiful nature with unfortunate signs of human presence in the form of dropped cans and food wraps that we picked up on the way back.
No mosquitoes. Saw remains of armadillo who became someone’s dinner and presence of bears , but no bears themselves. Still very glad we hanged the food and garbage high up on the tree branch at night. Saw a white tail deer.
There is nothing left of town of St Francis. The nature claimed it back completely.

hiking
22 days ago

AMAZING! Beautiful trail that took us by the St. Johns River with interesting topography. Pay attention to the trail markers. A couple of times we almost lost the trail but it was easy to double back. Not a lot of people there so a peaceful time spent in the woods.

hiking
1 month ago

The trail was great for me because I love a good adventure but for about a mile and a half or so the trail was completely under water up to about me knee from the hurricane I would definitely go again when the water goes down. On the trail I brought a pair of trekking poles which save my tail a few times from falling also I would where a pair of quick dry shoes because I wore a pair of heavy duty hiking boots and they took a good 3 days to dry. I also got a lot of really bad chigger bites that still itch every once in while and I went on the trail about 2 months ago so I would definitely wear and have bug spray and a lot of it. Anyway good luck.

hiking
1 month ago

Really nice trail. Well blazed. Water got too deep for me today. Will deff come back in the dry season to finish the whole loop. But what I saw today was beautiful. Old oak hammocks and pine flat woods. Worth going

3 months ago

Nice trail with lots of water...wear your boots if it rains.

hiking
6 months ago

I didn't enjoy the hike as much as I could have due to the large amount of hand-sized banana spiders covering the trail everywhere. I love being outside and seeing wildlife, but the spiders got in the way of that- with having to duck and crawl under the webs without disturbing/having a huge spider fall on oneself. We ducked/passed/saw at least 40 of them. Besides that, the trail seemed well maintained, lightly trafficked. If the arachnophobia hadn't gotten to me, I probably would've finished the trail and enjoyed it more!!

hiking
6 months ago

A nice, but unspectacular jaunt. I found the high point to be the trail's diversity. Starting (and finishing) in a beautifully canopied oak forest, this well maintained loop then drops into a semi tropical river floodplain. I did it in July (rainy season) so there was a fair share of ankle deep water covering short stretches of trail for the couple miles between the forrest and St John's. The St John's reveal is nice - if not striking - and as you meander back toward the loop, it is easy to imagine a riverfront community on the sandy bluff. The early part of return piece of the loop (assuming a counter clockwise trip) hikes like a pine scrub with a nice mix of Magnolias, many still flowering, adding an occasional touch of shade and pretty to the walk. All to soon you are back in the oak forest (with well placed boardwalks to keep the feet dry). The yellow loop is worth the diversion. During low water and cooler weather, I'd probably call this an Easy. July heat, puddle hopping in the wet lowlands and the resultant wet feet probably nudge it to moderate.

hiking
8 months ago

This was a nice scenic trail, but we didn't see the ruins anywhere. I think it may have been down an unmarked side trail :T Wish it had been marked, I would have liked to have seen that.

We also saw a snake that appeared to be a cottonmouth, so watch out for those too.

cross country skiing
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The trail was a good hike , saw one snake appeared to be a cottonmouth

8 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

hiking
Saturday, March 19, 2016