Sean and I took a recent weekend getaway trip to Jacksonville Beach. We drove from Tampa on Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon, we took a jiu jitsu seminar at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu – Atlantic Beach. In the evening, we enjoyed hanging out at the beach, and dining on pizza and local craft brews. Our plan for Sunday was to stop and explore the Guana River Wildlife Management Area. I had done some research before, and knew we could get a trail run in while exploring the park. The park is near Ponte Vedra Beach, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. There are two entrances. The more popular south entrance, and the north entrance. We were scouting for the north entrance, since we saw there were access to the trails. I thought the north entrance might be a good trail running spot for us.
Guana River WMA North Entrance
The north entrance was a little tricky to find. Our GPS missed it, but we were able to find it through Google Maps. We were finally able to find the entrance off of Roscoe Boulevard, just off of Palm Valley Road. There was a trailhead kiosk, restrooms, and parking. During my online research, I read there was an entrance fee to the park. We did not see anywhere to pay the $3 entrance fee. Once we glanced at the map from the kiosk, we saw that it mentioned the north entrance does not have a fee. We studied the map for a bit, and noticed that the various trails connect to one another. You could come up with a lot of nice combinations for some great trail runs! Since we weren’t prepared to do a long run, traversing the trails down to the south entrance was not our plan for the morning. Instead, we opted to follow the Wright Road Loop and add the North Branch Loop Road. The North Branch Loop road is an annex off of Wright Road Loop.
Off The Beaten Path
We headed out on the south side of the Wright Road Loop. The trail started as a nice dirt path, but quickly progressed into an overgrown trail. Parts of the trail had puddles, so I would imagine that it can get quite flooded in the summer rainy months. We were careful to keep our eyes open for any snakes near the water, but we did not see any. After connecting back to the wider part of Wright Road Loop, we soon made our turn onto North Branch Loop. While running on this trail, we were literally taking the road less traveled. There were a few times we thought we had lost the trail, but then it would open back up onto a clear path. It was very pretty in the woods, and we heard a lot of birds. We came around a corner into an open field and we spotted some movement in the brush. As we inched closer, we saw that it was baby turkey chicks with their mother nearby. I got a quick photo of one of the baby turkey chicks, and then we left the mother and her babies alone.
Shortly after seeing the baby turkeys, we turned back onto the Wright Road Loop. The morning was starting to warm up, so we were glad to be finishing our short trail run at the Guana River WMA. There are definitely a lot of trails left for us to discover for our next trip back. However, with the trails near the north entrance a tad overgrown and unused, I would travel a few extra miles (and pay the $3) to park at the south entrance. Plus, I can explore some new trails from the south entrance on my next visit. If you are interested in exploring Guana River WMA, visit the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Let me know if you visit!