This hike was a weird one. I saw Holton Creek Wilderness Management Area on AllTrails, with two one-star reviews, one saying that it’s a trailer park with access to the Suwannee River blocked off. I was curious because SOMEBODY added this trail, and there were two pictures on the trail’s page of the river. So it had to be somewhere.
The problem was that, using the coordinates associated with the trail on AllTrails, or even plugging in the address for the Suwannee River Camp that’s right nearby, Google Maps gets confused and tells you to drive into the woods and swim across the river. So after some research I found the correct way to reach the entrance to Holton Creek WMA, but beyond that we’d have to figure it out as we went along.
Fortunately there’s enough signage to consistently assure you you’re in the right place and/or still heading in the right direction, but the road to the river camp was long and crappy. If you ever get the chance to come out here, bring your Jeep or get ready to cringe your way to the end of the road.
We parked in front of the camp, but there was no official trail head and the only thing that made us feel like it was okay to just duck under the gate was a sign that said the camp was meant only for kayakers and Florida Trail thru-hikers.
So for the first quarter of a mile we walked along the white diamond trail (which eventually turned into the red trail), looking at the map on my phone and lamenting the fact that the river was RIGHT THERE but we couldn’t see it from this trail. Eventually, when we could practically see the other side, we decided to momentarily abandon the trail and cut through the woods just to finally get a look at it. This was the best decision we could have made, because as it happened, this landed us right on the Florida Trail. Nichole looked up and saw an orange blaze on a tree, and we decided to just keep going this way for three miles before turning around and heading back again.
The majority of the trail did follow right next to the Suwannee River, so it was a really beautiful hike. We saw some enormous trees, an owl, and a couple leatherback turtles. And lots of kayakers. The weather was perfect and there weren’t a ton of bugs. There were a couple downed trees that we had to climb around, but that just makes it more interesting. I think this is the third section of the Florida Trail we’ve walked along, and the more of it we see, the more I would love to just walk the whole thing some day. It really is amazing.
When we finally turned back, we walked the Florida Trail to the river camp (rather than cutting back to the white trail) and got a good look around there. If you’re ever hiking through and need a place to stop, this place is awesome. Huge shelters, picnic tables and grills, electricity and plumbing (as in working toilets and showers) and direct access to the river.
I wish we could have done more of it, but hopefully eventually we’ll be back as thru-hikers.