Back Beyond

St. Francis once a thriving pioneer town on the west bank of the St. Johns River, originally known as "Old Town", was founded in 1887. In its heyday, the town supported a weekly newspaper, "The Florida Facts", a post office, a general store, a hotel, a warehouse with roomy wharves, a sanitarium and health resort, numerous residences, and several hundred acres of citrus trees.

Residents of the area brought logs and citrus by ox-drawn wagons to St. Francis for shipping on the river. Steamboats brought goods and supplies for settlements throughout north Lake County.

The development of railroads caused travel and shipping on the St. Johns River to fade away. This, combined with the devastating freeze of 1894, spelled the doom of St. Francis.

Treasured Trail

Constructed to explore the paths of yesteryear, St. Francis Trail takes you through six different ecosystems. The sounds of red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers and red-winged blackbirds my greet you. Look for stands of sabal palms, riverine swamps, and majestic live oaks you will encounter. Explore parts of an old levee, built to flood an area for rice cultivation. You will experience flatwoods dominated by slash pines and palmetto.

Discover an undisturbed spring in its natural setting, and walk along an old logging railroad bed. Investigate nature and the signs that wildlife leave behind
…a paw print or a feather.

Enjoy an adventure through the forest to the "Old Town" ghost…St. Francis!



Diverse Directions

Discover two trails…one for hard-core hikers; another for casual visitors looking for a leisurely walk through the forest.

Searching for a challenging experience? The 7-mile blue-blazed trail winds through diverse terrain and ecosystems to the once -booming town of St. Francis.

Take time to enjoy the 2.8 mile yellow-blazed trail that loops from the "blue" trail around a natural spring.



Click on map to zoom in

  • The trail is located in Volusia county, about a mile from Deland. It is about an hour from Ocala.
  • The nearest public restroom facility and phone is located a Ed Stone Park on State Road 44 and the St. Johns River bridge, one mile east.
  • Rain showers create a muddy and wet trail. Wear water-proof shoes when wet.
  • Dress for the weather. Be prepared for sudden changes.
  • Wear proper footgear
  • During hunting season (November - January), please wear or carry articles of florescent orange color
  • Bring a camera, bug spray, binoculars, water canteen, identification, etc. in a backpack for easy access.

For more information contact:

     Pittman Visitor Center
45621 State Road 19
Altoona, Florida 32702
Phone: (352) 669-7495
or      Seminole Ranger District
Ocala National Forest
40929 State Road 19
Umatilla, Florida 32784
Phone: (352) 669-3153


Produced by United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service Southern Region
August 1996

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