Hickory Bluff Preserve is a small protected aea located along the banks of the St. John's River just east of Sanford. Within its boundaries is a pretty landscape of pine flatwoods and a riverside forest of mixed hardwoods and palms. The short stretch of trail along the river itself is notable for the low bluff which the trail follows which provides broken views across the St. John's and the largely undeveloped shore lined with cabbage palms beyond. Through the preserve loop two trails, simply named the Red and Blue Trails, which combined togehter offer a pleasant 1.5-mile walk that is beautiful as it is easy to travel. It's a peaceful place and offered the perfect way to wind down after my earlier hike at nearby Black Bear Wilderness.
With daylight waning I set off into the pine-covered landscape surrounding the small sandy parking area off Guise Road. A small kiosk marks the trailhead at the lots southern end. The first part of the hike passed through an enjoyably scenic landscape dominated by tall, scattered pines underlain by a thick ground cover of saw palmettos. Within a half mile the trail emerges at the St. John's at a large fire ring and covered picnic pavilion. The route is a bit confusing here. To continue the loop head up toward the pavilion and pick up the trail heading east along the river. Soon the path reaches the low bluff above the St. John's before turning back inland. Again, the landscape is dominated by low shrubs, moss-draped live oaks, and more pine flatwoods. Numerous other roads/paths criss-cross the main route but for the most part wooden posts and the well-trodden nature of the trail kept me on the correct heading. Before I knew it I once again emerged from the trees onto the short drive to the parking area, located a couple hunderd feet to the right at the end of the trail.
Overall, this short hike offered me just what I wanted...a nice quick bonus hike to compliment the longer hike I had enjoyed earlier in the day. In fact, I finished up more quickly than expected and decided to turn the days pair of hikes into a trifecta with another quick stroll at the nearby Lake Monroe Conservation Area. I'd highly recommend this hike, particularly if you're short on time or require a trail that doesn't demand a whole lot of effort. As I think you'll see the scenery isn't drop-dead gorgeous but it has a peaceful beauty that is sure to please the spirit. So, without further adieu I present to you Hickory Bluff Preserve...and, as always...ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 28.832090, -81.118714
Mileage Hiked: 1.6 miles Hike Duration: 0:45
Trailhead Temp: 65'F Trail Traffic: 1-5 people
Min. Elevation: 10' Max. Elevation: 20'
Total Vertical Gain: 15' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 9'