Submitted by Donna Bollenbach
If you are like me, if you are travelling to Daytona Beach for the FNPS Conference, you may plan to stay a few extra days, or make a few stops on the way there or home. Here are a few parks and preserves, a short distance North of Daytona Beach that you may want to check out. Click on the name of the park for more information and fees.
8 Miles N
|Sunset over the Tomoka River. Photo by Donna Bollenbach|
Tomoka State Park is only 8 miles north of the Daytona Beach Resort. The 900-acre peninsula offers several short hiking trails, including a mile long paved multi-use trail and a one and a half mile interpretive trail that winds its way through a hardwood hammock.
|Legend of Tomokie monument|
Photo by Donna Bollenbach
When we camped there one winter, my husband and I really enjoyed exploring the park's lagoons and rivers, and spending evenings watching the sun go down over the river.
A short walk takes you to a legendary 45 foot high concrete monument. It was made in 1955 by sculptor Frederick Dana Marsh who called it the “Legend of Tomokie.”
According to the park website "the legend has Chief Tomokie taking a “golden cup” and using it to commit the forbidden act of drinking from a sacred spring. as once inhabited by Timucuan Indians. According to the legend this particular spring water had fountain-of-youth-like powers but actually Tomokie had doomed himself and his tribe. Use of the sacred water and theft of the cup was avenged by other natives and specifically by the female warrior Oleeta (center), who in turn was slain by Chief Tomokie’s warriors."
12 miles N
Bulow Creek protects nearly 5,600 acres, more than 1,500 of which are submerged lands. The highlight of Bulow Creek is one of the largest remaining stands of southern live oak forest along Florida's east coast. The reigning tree is the Fairchild Oak, one of the largest live oak trees in the South.
|The Majestic Fairchild Oak. Photo by Donna Bollenbach|
As the park website describes it: "For more than 400 years, the Fairchild Oak has been a silent witness to human activities along Bulow Creek, including the destruction of the neighboring Bulow Plantation during the Second Seminole War in 1836."
Visitors can picnic in a shady pavilion or at a table on the lawn within view of the Fairchild Oak."
or hike the seven mile Bulow Woods Trail to the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park.
17 miles N
While camping at Tomoka State park, I discovered this piece of paradise on the fringe of Flagler Beach, a breath of fresh in a busy beach community. If I were to recommend one place to visit off the beaten path in this part of Florida, this would be it.
|Twilight at Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve by Donna Bollenbach|
Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve protects more than 200 acres of mangrove marsh, mudflats, and coastal uplands. Opened in 1995, the preserve was named in honor of Betty Steflik, a Flagler Beach City Commissioner who dedicated the last 25 years of her life to preserving Flagler County’s fragile coastline and wetlands.
The preserve has an extensive network of boardwalks that curve through estuarine creeks and out to the Intracoastal Waterway, offering panoramic views and excellent wildlife viewing. A descent off the boardwalk envelopes you in a sun dappled loop trail through a maritime hammock and a coastal scrub.
|Intracoastal from boardwalk by Donna Bollenbach|
It offers everything a naturalist would desire: bird watching, pristine coastal plant communities, stunning landscapes and wildlife views.
Open from dawn until 11:00 pm, the preserve is located in Flagler Beach and lies along the eastern side of the Intracoastal Waterway south of State Road 100.
30 Miles N
Placed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River, this property was once owned by a distant relative of President George Washington. The gardens were established by Louise and Owen Young who purchased the land in 1936 and built a winter retirement home. They named it Washington Oaks and, in 1965, donated most of the property to the State. The gardens make remarkable use of native and exotic species, from azaleas and camellias to the exquisite bird of paradise, sheltered within a picturesque oak hammock.
|The roses come in all colors at the formal gardens. |
Photo by Donna Bollenbach
Although the formal gardens are the centerpiece of this park, Washington Oaks is also famous for the unique shoreline of coquina rock formations that line its Atlantic beach. A number of short trails provide opportunities for hiking and bicycling.
If you are travelling north along the east coast, this would be a good stop for a picnic lunch.
Submitted & Published by Donna Bollenbach
|Coquina rock formations at Washington Oaks. Photo by Donna Bollenbach|