Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: Bulow Creek State Park/Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park Review - Ormond Beach, FL

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bulow Creek State Park/Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park Review - Ormond Beach, FL

Bulow Creek State Park/Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park
3351 Old Dixie Highway
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
Phone:  386-676-4050
Bulow Creek State Park and Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park is located near Ormond Beach, Florida.  While it doesn't offer camping, it does offer a few hiking trails and lots of Florida history.  It's not a large park (only about 5 square miles in size) and it's one that is easily passed by - if we didn't actively seek out hiking, we wouldn't have found it.  So, if you're interested in getting off the beaten path, it can be a great day trip from nearby beaches and lets you see a part of "Old Florida" - or as many would call it, the "real" Florida. We made this park a day trip while staying at Gamble Rogers State Park last fall - we recommend it!

As far as activities, there are hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and (we didn't this time) geo-caching.  Our primary reason for visiting the park was to get a little exercise while taking in some Florida history.  While Florida doesn't exactly bathe in history like many other parts of the country, it is very interesting to see how the state grew and shaped throughout its own unique history. 

Bulow Plantation Ruins
As far as the hiking goes, there are two different trails.  The first, the Wahlin Trail, a shorter loop that includes a ground water spring offering ice cold Florida spring water (though we didn't test it!) fed through a coquina rock bluff.   Many parts of this trail have "bridges that carry the trail over sensitive plants crucial to the delicate ecosystem".  We were unable to Thermacells!).  Going during the rainy summer season could definitely be more of a challenge to keep your shoes dry as there are several creeks in the area (and few pedestrian bridges).  Make sure that you bring your hats, sunscreen, bug repellant and/or Thermacells, and plenty of water - especially if you aren't starting first thing in the morning while it's still cool out.  Florida is known for its humid, muggy, hot days - prepare accordingly.  Even under the shade of massive oaks and palms, the temperatures usually are soaring by midday. 

Second, nearly 7 mile trail (that we didn't complete) sounded not for the faint-of-heart.  We will be revisiting the park again when we are both able to complete the full 13 miles of hiking - now that's a full day!

From the Bulow Creek State Park website:

"The Bulow Woods Trail is a 6.8 mile hiking trail that runs from the Fairchild Oak to Bulow Plantation Ruins State Historic Site. From the parking area at Bulow Creek, the trail will take you through the old growth live oak hammock, following freshwater seepage slopes which are a great visual of our Florida Aquifer in action. A small bridge at 1.5 miles provides a scenic view of Cedar Creek. The trail is 6.8 miles one-way, totaling over 13 miles to return to Bulow Creek. White-tailed deer, barred owls and raccoons are commonly seen and, occasionally, a diamondback rattlesnake. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance seasonally, and a water bottle is highly recommended as there is no potable water available except at Bulow Plantation."

Fairchild Oak located inside the Bulow Creek State Park is one of, if not the largest live oak tree in the south, estimated to be over 400 years old!  This gigantic, majestic tree is enjoyable to see and spend time with and let your imagination run wild with all the things that have happened in its storied life - almost a natural sort of "time machine".  Just imagine the number of hurricanes this old boy's made it through!
The old Bulow Plantation of which you can visit the ruins of in the other park, was the largest in east Florida.  The plantation buildings were made up mainly of coquina rock (crushed shells compacted together over time) and was developed in 1821 by Major Charles Wilhelm Bulow.  The plantation lived a very short life as it was destroyed in the Second Seminole War of 1836.  There does seem to be a little confusion when visiting this park.  If you want to go to the ruins, Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park is the place.  You can also visit the Fairchild Oak (in the Bulow Creek State Park) without all the hiking (handy for those of us who are limited in the distance they can hike - or if it's rainy season).

This is one of those little, out-of-the-way places that only a select few ever take the time to check out.   But, thrill-seekers need not apply for this kind of park.  If you're looking for that kind of ride, Orlando is just a little over an hour away and offers plenty of thrill rides.  This is Old Florida, slow-paced and relaxed.  Take a few extra steps around the plantation ruins and imagine what life would have been like during the sugar mill's heyday.  It's hard to believe that this was one of the largest sugar cane plantations in the southeast.  The towering trees left us wondering what stories some of the oldest ones could tell... 

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