I arrived at Suwannee River State Park just after it opened early in the morning. Visitors to the park are immediately met with a large picnic area complete with porch swings conveniently placed to overlook the splendor of the historic Suwannee River. At this peaceful hour it’s a simple thing to sit and watch song birds and squirrels foraging for breakfast, but on this trip I spared only a few minutes before setting to the task of trail hiking.
The park has over twelve miles of trails, but for this exploratory adventure I decided to tackle just under three miles worth starting with the Earthworks Trail. This short trail traverses the remains of an old earthen battlement built to defend the railroad bridge and navigation upon the Suwannee River. Still in place along this trail are the remains of an old sawmill, paddlewheel shaft and railroad car.
After crossing the wooden bridge over the earthworks the trail winds to a superb vantage point overlooking the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. The trailhead for the Big Oak Trail also starts here.
Suwannee River, Balanced Rock and Lime Sink Run Trails
This series of interconnected trails starts at the picnic area opposite of the Earthworks Trail. After passing the park’s boat ramp visitors arrive at a small bridge and the trailhead for two of the three trails. The Suwannee River Trail travels along the high bank of the river giving hikers an excellent view of the river, the high limestone banks and one of the many springs that feed into it.
The Suwannee River Trail gives way to Balanced Rock Trail which also follows the course of the river. Balanced Rock is an intriguing limestone formation perched precariously on the river’s edge. Just past this rock hikers pick up the Lime Sink Run Trail and follow it as it winds past eroded limestone sinks and pools. One notable sink has a footbridge crossing it.
Continuing along the Lime Sink Run Trail visitors follow the course of a seasonal creek. It was dry during my visit but one merely has to imagine a swollen creek to envision how the creek was cut, especially when compared to the flood marker near the boat ramp.
Upon completing the trio of trails I took a break on the swings overlooking the Suwannee and simply soaked in the peace. I was considering calling it a day and getting back on the road to reach my destination when I glanced at the trail map near the restrooms and realized I still had time to conquer one more trail for the day.
Sand Hills Trail
This trail winds three-quarters of a mile through the pine forest passing the old Columbus Cemetery. There are several unique grave markers here that make the hike worth the trip. Moving on past the cemetery the trail eventually intersects with an old stage coach trail before returning to the parking lot.
Camping at Suwannee River State Park
Although I didn’t get the opportunity to camp here the park does have both campsites and cabins available. This park offered enough variety to warrant a return trip so I’ll post a future update after I’ve experienced the campsites it firsthand.
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