Exploring the Trails
Immerse yourself in the great outdoors on Florida's Historic Coast.
St. Augustine’s trails - they lead away from the crowds and into worlds of light and shadow punctuated by the gentle hiss of the sea, the chatter of birds and the whisper of your own footsteps on the forest floor. They come in varieties that insure there is one for every mood and level of experience. These designated pathways explore maritime hammocks where the rolling remnants of ancient dunes lie covered by deep coastal forests.
Want to be a castaway for an afternoon? There’s a beachside trail where fellow hikers are seldom seen and the trappings of modern civilization are hidden behind towering dunes. There are trails through history where, if you listen closely, you can hear the murmur of voices from the past. Or for those who want a strenuous hike deep into the flora and fauna of Old Florida – well, those trails are here too.
Three hundred years ago, a walk beyond the walls protecting the city of St. Augustine would have been filled with adventure and the real possibility of danger. Today, similar excursions continue to offer adventure – but the danger is long gone.
Just across Matanzas Bay, Anastasia Island offers a variety of pathways to explore. Within Anastasia State Park (admission $8 per car) is the Cape Francis beachside trail. More than 7-miles out and back, it’s perfect for hikers who want to be a castaway for a few hours - the further you go the fewer people you encounter. Plus, any reminders of modern civilization are hidden behind the dunes (no shade; bring water). The park’s Ancient Dunes Trail takes hikers on a three-quarter mile excursion deep within a maritime forest.
Want an easy and memorable trail perfect for kids? The Spanish Quarry Trail just 100 yards from A1A on the park approach road (free parking and admission) takes hikers on an interpretive trail down into the old quarry that provided the coquina stone used to build the Castillo de San Marcos and oldest surviving homes.
At the southern tip of the island, Fort Matanzas National Monument features an easy half-mile Nature Trail and a more challenging Crescent Beach Trail with a 1.5-mile loop trail along the river and beach. Along the river, wading birds, nesting owls, sea turtles and manatees can sometimes be seen. (Leashed dogs are welcome on each trail.)
Take SR 206 off the island at Crescent Beach for about one mile to reach the Moses Creek Conservation Area’s White Trail, a 4-mile out and back pathway that leads to a great observation point overlooking the salt marsh. Partially shaded by oak and pine, it’s a good alternative to a day at the beach and perfect for exercising dogs.