Florida State Parks 75th Anniversary Logo
Blues Creek runs through Big Otter Ravine. A water-filled sinkhole sits above the ravine. Needle palm grows in Big Otter Ravine. The sun slants through the trees onto the leaf-covered floor of Big Otter Ravine.
San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
A simple sign welcomes visitors to the San Felasco Hammock hiking trails.

History and Culture

This 7,360-acre preserve has one of the few remaining mature forests in Florida and has one of the finest examples of the climax mesic hammocks remaining in Florida. The limestone outcrops and extreme changes in elevation provide conditions for many species of hardwood trees. Sinkholes, steephead springs, ponds, and small lakes dot the landscape. Blues Creek, Turkey Creek and Cellon Creek all enter San Felasco from outside the park boundary and flow through the park, finally dropping into swallows, which drain back into the aquifer.

Historically, the preserve has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years.  Artifacts found here indicate that aboriginals inhabited the area since at least 8,000 B.C.  Change came to the American Indian culture with the introduction of the Spanish mission system controlled by the Franciscans and Jesuits.  Within San Felasco is believed to be the mission site of late 17th- century San Francisco de Potano.   Potano was the name of the Indian culture living in the area at the time of the Spanish settlement of Florida.  Later the area was the scene of a brief skirmish between the Seminoles and the Florida militia during the Second Seminole War. (1835 – 1842)  Col. John Warren and his men along with the aid of a cannon fought off a party of Seminoles in an hour-and-a-half-long battle.

 

The source of its name, San Felasco has been traced to the consistent mispronunciation of “San Francisco” by the Indians and early settlers.

A historic wooden building, once associated with the tung oil industry, stands against a backdrop of pines and hardwoods.

Tung Nut Depot

This building, known as the Tung Nut Depot, was associated with the tung oil industry which was well-established in Alachua County by the 1930s. Tung oil is extracted from the 'nut' (actually from a seed of the fruit of the tung tree) and is used in the production of paint, varnish, printing ink, linoleum and other products. Tung trees were originally imported from China and cultivated on plantations in the southern United States; they are now considered an invasive exotic plant in Florida.

A covered picnic shelter nestled in in the trees.

Picnic Pavilion

A covered pavilion invites visitors to enjoy a picnic lunch.

A multi-use trail leads visitors.

Trails

The trails at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park are perfect for hiking, cross country bicycling or horseback riding.

Two equestrians enjoy a horseback ride.

Equestrians

Two equestrians enjoy a ride. Trails wind through shady woods, along creek beds and through open fields and pinewoods.

A deer looks at the photographer.

White-tail deer

The park provides conditions favorable to wildlife such as bobcat, white-tailed deer, gray fox and turkey. Migrating waterfowl make use of wetlands and ponds. Endangered and threatened species are found in the preserve. Many species of songbirds make their homes in the 18 natural communities found in the preserve.