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The Palatka Urban Trail will serve as a connector between the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail (to the east) and Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail (to the west). At this time, a one-mile gap remains. The trail weaves through the northeastern part of town on both off-road bike paths and roadway bike lanes. Palatka is positioned as the hub for the growing North Florida trail network: Lake City to St. Augustine, and St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop. (Map link and photos below.)
Map link... Palatka Urban Trail
Location: Putnam County
Mileage: 2 miles
End Points: Palatka, FL
Trailheads/Parking: Riverfront Park, Train Station (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Ravine Gardens State Park, St. Johns River Center, Water Works Environmental Education Center, Browning Railroad Museum
Putnam Bicycles (Palatka)
Support and Advocacy:
Putnam County Blueways & Trails CSO
At the center of a growing trails network, Palatka is working to enhance the visitor experience. The Palatka Urban Trail is a good start connecting the two state trails. The trail is an easy ride, where it runs as a bike lane along moderately used Main St., it's wide and well marked. The trail is a nice local amenity linking homes, businesses, schools and churches. A work in progress; when connections to the surrounding trails are smoothed out (especially to the west), it will be even more attractive as a hub for bikers to relax and refresh.
We visit the trail from east to west, and also other local sites of interest.
Starting from US 17 at the St. Johns River Bridge, the trail runs along 1st St. on an off-road bike path to Main St. It then runs through the North Historic District along Main St. as a bike lane, past homes, businesses, playing fields and historic sites (St. Marks Episcopal Church  and Bronson Mulholland House ). Main St. ends at 11th St., the trail continues straight, past the Amtrak train station and Railroad Museum (on the left).
The historic Atlantic Coast Line Depot (aka the Old ACL Union Depot) dates from 1908. Parking and restrooms are available, and historic railroad exhibits. The depot, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, also houses the Palatka Railroad Preservation Society and the Browning Railroad Museum. This is an active rail line, the Amtrak stop is on a platform outside the depot.
From the station the trail runs next to the track to Madison St. where it crosses the track. It winds through west Palatka roadside, through business and residential areas along Madison and other roads. At 15th St. and Dunham St., it then runs on an old Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad railbed to trail end at US 17, about 3/4 mile. A road route continues west from here to the Palatka-to-Lake Butler State Trail.
Palatka (the Putnam County seat) is a Florida Trail Town, defined as destinations where trail users (whether biking, hiking, equestrian, or paddling) can go off the trail to experience the amenities and unique heritage of each community. Palatka checks all the boxes with its scenic riverfront, historic downtown, restaurants, accommodations, and as the center of the evolving Lake City to St. Augustine Trail and part of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop.
At its eastern end, the Palatka Memorial Bridge across the St. Johns River links to East Palatka and the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail. The four Doughboy Statues at the ends of the bridge commemorate those who served in World War I. The original Old Memorial Bridge is now a fishing pier and boardwalk.
Note: The Boardwalk loops under the new bridge, a safer link for walkers and bikers between Riverfront Park and the Palatka Urban Trail, however it was closed on our visit for repair. We look forward to it reopening, otherwise crossing busy US 17 requires going to the traffic light at 2nd St.
Riverfront Park to the south of the bridge is a gem: 1/4 mile riverfront walkway with scenic river views, observation deck, marina, playground, splash pad, parking and restrooms. Paths at the park are bikeable. The St. Johns River Center here is an environmental education center focused on the St. Johns River and its related wetlands eco-systems, their importance and conservation. The park also serves as trailhead for the Bartram Trail, tracking the route of the botanist and explorer John Bartram in the 1770's.
Palatka's central district, to the west of Riverfront Park, also is undergoing a revitalization. The effort includes the Conley-Snyder Murals; mostly centered downtown along St. Johns Ave., they consist of over 30 murals by local artists depicting the historical, cultural, and natural riches of Palatka and Putnam County. Just to the south starting at Oak St., the South Historic District contains 243 historic buildings.
Palatka Area Overview
- Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail
- Palatka to Lake Butler State Trail
- Ravine Gardens State Park
- Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
North FL Region - More trails plus Regional Overview map
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