Trails at Blackwater River

Sandy path between trees overlooking the river.

The trails at Blackwater River State Park offer access to scenic and secluded forests, wetlands and creeks. Walking through these areas, visitors can spot wildlife like gopher tortoises, great blue herons, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and opossums.

The Chain of Lakes Nature Trail is a 1.75-mile loop trail that starts off in the Blackwater River floodplain forest. It traverses a chain of oxbow lakes that mark one of the river’s former routes. The trail takes a dramatic turn into a rare type of natural community— sandhill forest. Here, giant longleaf pines tower over wiregrass and turkey oak. Visitors in the summer might be lucky enough to spot an endangered panhandle lily. On clear days, a beautiful rainbow effect is visible on the surface of some swamps. It isn’t caused by an oil spill, but by natural oils that leach out of cypress cones and trap pollen on the water’s surface.

From the North Bridge Parking Area, a 1-mile section of the Juniper Creek Trail passes through Blackwater River State Park. This trail serves as a gateway into Blackwater River State Forest. This trail is an exciting hike through floodplain swamp over a narrow catwalk bridge, continuing through expansive pine flatwoods. Please be aware this is not a loop trail and the trail continues approximately 7.5-miles through Blackwater River State Forest. The Juniper Creek Trail is maintained by volunteers through a partnership with the Florida Trail Association and is a component of the Florida National Scenic Trail System.

The Juniper Lake Trail is accessed using the pavilion boardwalk system. This trail has breathtaking views of Blackwater River and offers the opportunity to view some of the fascinating wildlife found in the park. As the trail loops around one of the largest oxbow lakes in the park, Juniper Lake, visitors will see the many Juniper trees which give the trail and lake its name.

The Blackwater River itself is a designated Florida Paddling Trail. The Florida Park Service provides maps and guides for paddlers interested in traveling all or a portion of this beautiful and pristine Florida river.