The Bartram Trail on the St. Johns River
William Bartram was an American botanist, ornithologist, natural historian, and explorer. Bartram was the author of an acclaimed book, now known as Bartram’s Travels. The book chronicled his explorations of the southern British colonies in North America from 1773 to 1777. Bartram has been described as “the first naturalist who penetrated the dense tropical forests of Florida”. The Bartram Trail in Putnam County was formed in order to re-establish the sites of William Bartram’s travels in our region and make them accessible via waterway, hiking, biking, and driving routes.
On several trips, we loaded up ‘Pon Tiki’ to explore these sections of the St. Johns River that Bartram himself explored around 250 years ago…..James
Brown’s Landing to Norwalk Point
Today’s trip begins 9 miles south of Palatka at Brown’s Landing. Located on the west side of the river, we launched and headed upriver for our adventure, retracing some key markers along the William Bartram Trail on the St. Johns…
Bartram Trail on The St. Johns River (pt.2)
A single, one-lane, concrete, Boat Ramp that accesses the St John’s River.
The ramp is equipped with a floating dock.
Parking: Paved parking for about 10-15 vehicles.
Boat ramp hours: From 5:00 AM To 9:00 PM
Distance: 17.5 miles one way to Croaker Cove @ Norwalk Point, a 35-mile round trip. 8.5 miles from Brown’s Landing to Crescent Lake via Dunns Creek, 8.5 miles one way, 17 miles round trip. Total miles 52.
There are numerous points of interest along the way and this mileage charge offers distances as well as coordinates to the different destinations.
At the launch, the St.Johns River is approximately 1500 wide and xxx deep. The river snakes as there are areas where the river is 0nly 700′ wide. 16 miles from the launch is Little Lake George and here the width is quite wide, over 7000′! By the time we reach Lake George the river is 3300′ wide.
The main channels of both Lake George and the St Johns River may average around 8′ – 12′ deep, while along the shorelines, depths can be as low as 1″, so keep an eye on your depth finder!
Rest Areas: These are minimal along this section. There are several marinas and a couple of parks if you have to stop for any reason. We anchored at the destination Norwalk Point and had lunch on the boat.
The “Redneck Riviera” is a shallow area in the middle of the St Johns River 1.5 miles south of the Browns Landing launch. It is at the green channel marker #23 and has three pieces of PVC pipe sticking out of the water a few yards apart. Weekends are usually busy. Just pull your boat up, BBQ on board, or float around. Fun place to be on a hot day in Florida when you don’t feel like fishing.
Bartram Trail Sites
Along this route, from Brown’s Landing to Norwalk Point, we pass by BT sites (Bartram Trail Sites ) 11 – 20. These are often designated by a sign giving the site number and location. There are several maps that are quite detailed that show all the locations and names. Here is a link to one of them.
Other Notable Landmarks
Aside from Bartram Sites, there are numerous places along this route to point out, but I will just name a few here. Buffalo Bluff RR Bridge @ 3 miles, St Johns Ship Building at Stokes Landing @ 6 mile RR, Florida Barge Canal @ 6.5 miles RR, The Ocklawaha River and Bear Creek @ 15 miles RR, and Croaker Hole Cove at 17 miles. There is also a location of a double shipwreck with the ‘skeletal’ remains sticking out of the water @ 6.5 miles. Obviously, these distances are not exact, as they follow my boating route, but they will get you close.
Brown’s Landing to Crescent Lake via Dunns Creek
As we returned to Brown’s Landing from Norwalk Point, we then cruised North about 0.75 miles to Dunns Creek, on the east side of the St Johns River. Dunns Creek, beginning at the northern side of Crescent Lake, 29°32’1.06″N, 81°33’24.15″W is a tributary to the St. Johns River. It flows 8.5 northeasterly from Crescent Lake until it reaches the St. Johns River at 29°35’17.93″N, 81°37’50.55″W. The creek is located between the towns of San Mateo and Satsuma in Putnam County, Fl. Dunns Creek is rather wide for a creek, ranging from 275′ – 500′. The easterly side of the creek is populated for almost the last 1/2 of the distance, while the westerly side includes sandhills and wetlands. The section of the creek we boated has Bartram Sites 8 & 9.
By the time we returned to Brown’s Landing we had cruised a little over 4 hours and went 52 miles. The trip was nice but we had a 13 – 15 mph wind coming back north from Norwalk Point. We will do this again!…James
St. Johns River Gallery…
Guides, Maps & Info…
- Notes on the Ocklawaha River…
- Bartram Trail Map…
- Bartram Trail Society…
- William Bartram and the Bartram Trail…
- The St. Johns River…
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