Recreation opportunities abound on District lands

The St. Johns River offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities, many of which are located within a short drive of Titusville. The St. Johns River Water Management District has acquired more than 500,000 acres of land throughout its 18-county jurisdiction, most of which is open to the public.

For a list of recreational opportunities, visit the District's Web site at www.sjrwmd.com/recreationguide.

Examples of nearby recreation opportunities include:

  • Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area, between State Roads 520 and 50. This conservation area was acquired to help protect the St. Johns River floodplain. The river elevation drops an average of only one foot per five miles on this property, which includes approximately 20 to 25 miles of river shoreline. The low gradient and large floodplain allow the St. Johns River to function as a water storage area, serving as a natural regulator during high and low water stages. The Tosohatchee State Reserve lies to the south and west. The Florida Trail Association has established hiking trails in the area.

  • Buck Lake Conservation Area, north of SR46 and west of Interstate 95. The Buck Lake tract consists of natural woodlands and wetlands that have been used historically for pine and hardwood timber production and cattle ranching. The ridge found in the eastern part of the property supports scrubby flatwoods and oak hammock that provide appropriate habitat for scrub jays. A basin swamp community dominates the eastern third of the property. This swamp or depression marsh receives surface water runoff from adjacent uplands and discharge into a wet prairie that makes up the headwaters of Six Mile Creek. This creek runs southward to Salt Lake, Loughman Lake and eventually to the St. Johns River. The western portion of the property features a large floodplain marsh and a marsh lake, Buck Lake. The property protects regionally significant habitat for several plant and animal species and provides floodwater retention to slow downstream flooding.

Get out there and enjoy the magnificent beauty and splendor of these near-pristine lands that represent some of the best that natural Florida has to offer.

Access by motorized vehicle is not allowed on many District-owned properties. On those properties, a parking area with an informational kiosk is provided as a trailhead to access the land for hiking and, unless otherwise restricted, for bicycling, horseback riding and boating. Off-road motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain and track vehicles, are not allowed on any District lands.

Airboat on the St. Johns River

Alligator in the Upper St. Johns River Basin.


St. Johns River - Fast Facts

St. Johns River Water Management District

The St. Johns River Water Management District has jurisdiction over some 12,400 square miles of area in Northern and East-central Florida, or about 21 percent of the state's total area. More than three million residents live within the District, which like Florida's other four water management districts, is organized along hydrologic boundaries rather than political lines. The St. Johns District includes all of Brevard, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia counties, and portions of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Lake, Marion, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Putnam and Polk counties.

Puzzle Lake on the St. Johns River

Facts:

  • The St. Johns is the longest river in Florida - 310 miles long. It is one of the few rivers in the United States that flows north.
  • The land area that drains into a water body is called a drainage basin - also called a watershed The St. Johns is divided into three drainage basins.
  • Because the river flows north, the upper basin is the area to the south that forms its marshy headwaters. The middle basin is the area in central Florida where the river widens forming lakes Harney, Jesup. Monroe and George. The lower basin is the area in Northeast Florida from Putnam County to the river's mouth in Duval County.
  • The source of the river, or headwaters, is a large marshy area in Indian River County It flows north and turns eastward at Jacksonville to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean
  • The width of the river varies. It is a broad marsh at its headwaters and averages more than two miles in width between Palatka and Jacksonville. It widens to form large lakes in central Florida.
  • The total drop of the river from its source in swamps south of Melbourne to its mouth in the Atlantic near Jacksonville is less than 30 feet, or about one inch per mile, making it one of the "laziest" rivers in the world.
  • Because the river flows slowly, it is difficult to flush pollutants.
  • Major pollution sources include discharges from wastewater treatment plants and runoff from urban and agricultural areas after it rains. This runoff carries pesticides and other pollutants into streams that lead to the river. Pollution is concentrated around urban areas.
  • Saltwater enters the river at its mouth in Jacksonville. In periods of low water, tides may cause a reverse flow as far south as Lake Monroe - 161 miles upstream from the rivers mouth.
  • Major tributaries, or smaller streams and rivers that flow into the St. Johns River include the Wekiva River, Econlockhatchee River and the Ocklawaha River.
  • The St. Johns basin is actually an ancient intracoastal lagoon system. As sea levels dropped barrier islands became an obstacle that prevented water from flowing east to the ocean. Instead, the water collected in the flat valley and slowly meandered northward for about 300 miles. This formed the St. Johns River.


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Recreation Guide to District Lands - Links to Each Recreation Area


Bicycling

Bicycling is allowed on many conservation areas and levees throughout the District as shown on the map for each area. Bicycle riders may ride on designated trails and established roads or fire lines, except where restricted by signs.

Camping

Primitive tent camping is allowed on District land at designated sites. Only tent camping is allowed. Check area maps for campsites and special restrictions. Many of the camping areas are remote and can only be reached by hiking, bicycling, boating or horseback riding. A special-use authorization may be issued by the District for mobility-impaired persons to use motorized vehicles.

Campers should note there are no facilities, restrooms or potable water at the primitive campsites unless otherwise designated. Campers should use the designated campfire ring for fires and should carry out all garbage with them when they leave.

Individual and group camping sites are available at most locations where camping is allowed; length of stay is limited to seven days for individual and group camping.

Individual camping is limited to four individual campsites, with each campsite limited to six people. Individual camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. No fees are required.

Group camping is for groups of seven or more people. A reservation and a permit are required from the District, and campers must call at least seven days in advance. No fees are required.

To obtain a permit for camping or for more information, contact the District's Division of Land M management at (386) 329-4404. Dogs, cats or other domestic animals Dogs, cats or other domestic animals, excluding horses, are allowed on District land provided that they are leashed at all times. Domestic animals are allowed unleashed on District land if they are specifically authorized by a special-use authorization or District lease.

Fishing

Recreational fishing as authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is allowed on District lands except where specifically restricted by signs. FWC requires any person engaging in recreational fishing to have appropriate fishing licenses in their possession, unless exempted by FWC. The license must be displayed upon request of any District, FWC or law enforcement employee. Fishing licenses can be obtained from the tax collector's office of the applicable county. Licenses may also be acquired from certain FWC subagents, such as fish camps or sporting goods stores.

General Information

The District does not provide rental facilities, restrooms or shelters unless noted in the description of individual properties.

Hiking

Hiking, jogging, bird-watching or any other activity where travel is by foot only is allowed on District lands except in areas restricted by signs.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding is allowed on many conservation areas on trails in designated areas and established roads and fire lines, except where restricted by signs. Check area maps for horseback riding opportunities.


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St. Johns River Water Management District

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