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One of the newer trails in the state park system, the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail consists of 47 planned miles of paved trail and two main trailheads at Twin Lakes and Lake Butler. Walkers, runners, cyclists, pets and inline skaters are welcome on this trail that will eventually stretch to the town of Palatka (and possibly farther) along the old Norfolk Southern Railroad track.
Buckle up your helmet and bring your water for this fun and heart-pumping trek across the central ridge of Florida! The initial section of the trail on the eastern side starts out directly parallel to Etoniah Creek State Forest. Wildlife is not uncommon to see at this eastern terminus, such as shy deer and colorful songbirds.
Cycle through the towns of Florahome and Putnam Hall before traveling through the larger town of Keystone Heights, where you can easily stop for a snack or drink at one of the small businesses located nearby. Here, a 5.5-mile paved path connects the main trail to Mike Roess Goldhead Branch State Park, one of the best remaining examples of sandhill habitat remaining in north-central Florida, and an excellent setting for canoeing, swimming, hiking and more wildlife viewing.
The next section of trail journeys for 19 miles from the Twin Lakes trailhead, passing by the Santa Fe Swamp Conservation Area, the city of Starke, and miles of mixed woods and open fields. A feeling of zen is all but inevitable as the miles pass, and you may not see another person for miles.
Finally, come to the last four peaceful miles of the trail, ending at the Lake Butler Trailhead. You will be pleasantly exhausted by your ride, eagerly awaiting the next time you can visit the trail.
The two primary trailheads at Twin Lakes (Keystone Heights) and Lake Butler have bathroom facilities and water fountains, the perfect places to begin or end your journey. If you can’t wait for the trail to finish construction or want to get more miles, know that only 2.5 miles separate this trail from the Palatka-to-St Augustine State Trail, another gem of the Florida Greenways and Trails system.
If you’re searching for a bike ride with plenty of mileage, smooth sailing and a chance to connect with nature, then look no further than the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail.