St. Francis Trail

MODERATE 7 reviews
#6 of 11 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.

DISTANCE
9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
98 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

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!

hiking
2 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
2 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.

4 months ago

hiking
4 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.

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
Saturday, March 19, 2016

cross country skiing
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

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