D29. Matanzas State Forest
SiteID: E29 (new)
County: St. Johns
Nearest City: St. Augustine/Palm Coast
Phone Number: 386-446-6786
Website: D29. Matanzas State Forest
Amenities: Access by appointment only, Seasonal hunting, Birding by car, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: Both morning and evening, Recommended length of visit: a few hours, Horseback riding br>
Habitats: Freshwater Swamp, Pines, River/Stream/Spring/Canal, Lake/Pond/Impoundment, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Salt Marsh, Mudflats
Purchased from a timber company in 2003, this state forest creates a conservation corridor between Moses Creek Conservation Area to the north and Faver-Dykes State Park (site #32) to the south. Habitats include bay and cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, hardwoods, salt marsh and mudflats. While much of the forest is still in pine plantation (restoration efforts are underway), this site is home to a regionally significant Wood Stork rookery, and Bald Eagles nest here as well.
Numerous forest roads permit birding by car, bicycle, horseback or foot, but be advised some roads may be closed at times to protect sensitive species. From the entrance off US 1, take Double Gate Grade Rd. east to Dunns Road, then turn right at the T-junction and head south until you reach Eagle’s Nest Rd. Turn left and head east to FR #12 on the edge of the salt marsh and mudflats good for Clapper Rails, Northern Harriers and shorebirds like Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlin. A foot trail winds north along the Matanzas River/ICW on the eastern edge of the property through a small band of hardwoods (scan for passerines such as Common Yellowthroats and Gray Catbirds). Along the roads, check the skies for American Kestrels and Swallow-tailed Kites. Guided tours are available with advanced notice. Seasonal hunting occurs here; see page 127 for dates, regulations and more information. Note: outside hunting season, the entrance gate is locked, and you must call ahead for a visitor’s permit and gate combination.
Directions: From I-95, take exit 305 for SR 206 and drive east for 2.2 mi. towards Crescent Beach. Turn left (south) onto US 1 and go 2.9 mi. Turn left (east) across US 1 to the entrance at Double Gate Grade Rd. on the right (east) side of the road.
Open all year, sunrise to sunset.