You’ve heard of the Timuquana Indians and the Timucuan preserve, yes? Great. The Timucuan Preserve actually includes the Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Theodore Roosevelt Area, American Beach, Kingsley Plantation, Cedar Point, Ribault Club, Talbot Islands State Parks, and Huguenot Memorial Park. I know what you’re thinking. These places are spread out around the mouth of the St. John’s and you’d have to drive a pretty good distance between many of them. Well yes. There are other large national preserves, this one is just separated by water.
Today we are talking about the Theodore Roosevelt Area. I always refer to this as “Fort Caroline” although it really isn’t. The Theodore Roosevelt Area contains hiking trails through historic scenery. This land was given by a man named Willie Browne, who lived his life in a cabin in these woods. He wanted people in Jacksonville to have a place to visit nature. Mr. Browne could have easily sold the land to developers for a pretty penny. What a gift!
What I love about the Theodore Roosevelt Area is taking my four-legged best friend for walks in the woods and the amount of miles I can cover without repeating a trail. There are creeks, ponds, bluffs (elevation change, whaaat?), and a viewing platform of the St. John’s River. There are also some historical sites, such as piles of oyster shells from the timuquana people and the site of Willie Browne’s cabin. The other thing you’ll see is a lot of nature and creatures. There are frequently turtles and snakes to see in the creek and pond, tons of fiddler crabs down by the river at low tide, birds aplenty, and I even had a 3 foot alligator cross my path once. My dog wanted to investigate, but I was looking over my shoulder for the mama alligator. Fortunately she was not around.
At the trailhead you’ll find the Willie Browne Trail. Follow that out and stay to the right at the fork, then take a right onto the Timucuan trail and follow it out a short distance to a lookout point on the river. It’s neat to see the land go from scrub brush to wetlands as you near the water. Follow the entire Timucuan trail to experience some Florida hills (er , bluffs).
The trails at the Theodore Roosevelt Area are also great for training for running or bike races. All the trails allow bikes except for the Timucuan trail. Bear in mind parts of the Willie Browne trail are a bit sandy. But the trail system is one of the longer ones in Jacksonville.
Want to get out in nature, do some distance training, or experience “Old Florida”? Check out the Theodore Roosevelt Area of the Timucuan Preserve!