When you think of Ichetucknee Springs State Park you may envision the beautiful springs there. But at the North Entrance of the park there are some scenic and historical trails you can explore. There are three different hiking trails. Blue Hole Trail: A half-mile walk through the Ichetucknee forest and cypress flood plain leads to Blue Hole Spring, the largest spring in the park. Trestle Point Trail: This shaded path winds along the crystal clear waters of the Ichetucknee River. The self-guided trail will take you back in time to the early 1900s, when phosphate ore was mined in the area. Pine Ridge Trail: A frequently overlooked area of the park is the majestic sandhill, with its towering longleaf pine and wide open vistas. View the natural diversity of this unique and vanishing ecosystem.
I particularly enjoyed the Trestle Point trail because of it’s history. In the early 1900’s they mined for phosphate in this area and you can still see evidence from that period as you walk along the old tram roads which are now part of the nature trail. I found large pits and even an old dragline shovel along the trail. I followed the trails towards the river and found the site where a small trestle used to cross. The phosphate would be hauled out of the mines across the river over the trestle. Here is some history I found on the area from the park website. “Phosphate mining in the park covered two major periods. Exploration mining began prior to the turn of the 20th century, consisting of mule and wheelbarrow-assisted excavation in nearby sinkholes and depressions. Later, the mine used boilers, pumps and steam shovels for ore extraction. A series of narrow-gauge railroads were installed to cart the ore out to local railroad lines. This early phase of mining was never as intrusive as our present-day methods, but many pits were left in the park and are still present today, especially around the Head Spring area. Another relic of the phosphate era is the series of ‘tram beds’ crisscrossing the park, left behind from the railroad conveyances.”
If you plan on visiting the springs at the North entrance don’t forget to check out these trails!