What we're about

Welcome to the Black Bear Chapter Meetup of the Florida Trail Association, serving Putnam, Flagler, and Volusia Counties. Formerly known as the Halifax-St. Johns Chapter, this Chapter maintains approximately 100 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail and Florida Trail in northern Ocala National Forest and north from Buckman Lock to Etoniah Creek, including the Rice Creek section. Trail maintenance is often accomplished with week-long camping outings. The Black Bear Chapter also maintains loop trails including the Bella Vista Trail at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park and the St. Francis Hiking Trail in the southern Ocala National Forest. The Black Bear Chapter schedules a variety of activities including trail maintenance, hiking, backpacking, camping, paddling, picnics and educational opportunities. Come enjoy the amazing natural beauty of our Florida environment. We welcome your suggestions and participation. The goal of Black Bear Chapter Meetup of the Florida Trail Association is to support the Florida Trail Association’s mission of building and maintaining the Florida National Scenic Trail as well as other trails throughout Florida. Our activities and members are in support of that goal. The Florida National Scenic Trail is a 1,100 mile public accessible trail spanning the length of Florida from the Big Cypress National Preserve at the Everglades to Gulf Islands National Seashore in the western Panhandle. There is no fee to join this Meetup and participate in events open to the public. Black Bear Chapter is one of 18 Florida Trail Association chapters statewide that provides volunteers to build and maintain the Florida National Scenic Trail. Building, maintaining and enjoying the Florida National Scenic Trail is our mission. Members of our Meetup group are not members of FTA until they join FTA. The Florida Trail Association is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization founded in 1966. We depend on your paid membership in the FTA and your generous donations for maintaining the Florida Trail. You can join the Florida Trail Association here: http://www.floridatrail.org/make-a-difference/become-a-me... (http://www.floridatrail.org/make-a-difference/become-a-member/)

Upcoming events (5+)

Spring to Spring Bike trip

Lake Beresford Park

We will meet at 9 am. Then use the paved Spring to Spring bike trail to Blue Springs. There is a $2 entrance fee from the bike trail into Blue Springs. We will hang out and watch the manatees and then head back. Total distance from park to Blue Springs and back is approximately 8 miles plus the ride into Blue Springs. Please bring water, maybe sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, a bike lock and $2.

St. Francis Backpacking Trip and camping, Ocala National Forest

St. Francis Trail head, Ocala National Forest

This event continues an age old tradition of camping and hiking the St Francis Trail and will be a part of the 2019 Winter Weekend Hiking series. At the turn of the century into early 1900's, the town of St. Francis was a riverside commerce center. Some evidence remains of the old town-site. This is a very scenic hike. Starting from the trailhead kiosk – which is where you’ll learn about St. Francis’ agricultural past – follow the yellow blazes into an upland hammock of oaks. The footpath is well-defined and easy to follow as you amble through this second-growth forest, and the trail is well-shaded. Crossing a short bridge, the trail turns left and heads deeper into the woods, where the a hint of floodplain forest starts to take shape on the right. Despite the size of the trees, there are clues this was once a farmer’s field. Although it’s no longer as obvious in the footpath, you can see the wavy shapes of the field’s furrows on either side, the forest growing atop the undulations. There are still mats in some of the dips, placed there long ago by trail maintainers to help stop erosion in the low spots. For more information, go to http://floridahikes.com/st-francis-trail Saturday evening around the campfire is held the annual election of "Mayor of St. Francis." Bribes of goodies to share greatly increases your chance to win votes. Come prepared. Chocolate hearts have won the election in the past. The "bribe" to run for the esteemed office of Mayor of St. Francis are influential in these elections held once a year by the camping group around the campfire Saturday night. If you have questions, contact Linda Taylor at [masked], or[masked]

Juniper Springs & Alexander Springs Paddle and Camping

Alexanders Springs Campground

We will set up base camp at Alexander State Park for both Friday and Saturday evenings. We will paddle Juniper Saturday and another spring Sunday. We will do a pot luck dinner on Saturday night only - on your own for Friday night. Sunday morning you can paddle either 4 miles downstream from the Alexander head springs to the bridge and back to the Alexander Springs park (easy - very beautiful paddle - 2 miles each way) or paddle one of the other springs or rivers in the area. This will be an open day. You can run your own shuttles or Juniper runs them for fee. Weather check zip code: 32720 Alexander Rec Area GPS CORDS: N29,04'42.0" W081,34'40.0" CAMPING FEE: $21.00, primitive/bathrooms/showers,no electric, this includes entrance fee; sites are 1st come/1st served; can call[masked] to reserve a site to be certain. 2 tents/vehicles per site allowed. We can reduce costs by 2 people sharing a campsite. DIRECTIONS: From Altoona, FL, take State Rt. 19 north for 3.7 miles to Alexander Springs sign (County Rd. 445). Turn onto Rt. 445 and go 5.1 miles to campground on left. Sign up for the weekend or just come for a day paddle. Non-camper or single day paddlers are welcome. Saturday single day paddlers, cost is $5.50 to enter park/launch. MEET AT CANOE LAUNCH INSIDE PARK AT 9am on Saturday morning, unload kayaks and run shuttle. Carpooling is always encouraged. Bring lunch and plenty to drink. *********WEARING YOUR PFD/WHISTLE IS ALWAYS ENCOURAGED.*********

Ididahike 2019

Spirit of the Suwannee Campground

Come hike a new Ididahike section of the Florida National Scenic Trail along the historic and beautiful Suwannee River. Last year the Ididahike donated $5000 to the Florida Trail and this coming year we are bringing the wildly successful event to a new and exciting location Spirit of the Suwannee Campground and Music Park. Participants will pay $20 when you arrive and register at the main gate of Spirit of the Suwannee Campground and Music Park to be shuttled via bus to Jerry Branch a Suwannee River Water Management access point to the river and trail. For those of you that are not familiar with the Spirit of the Suwannee here is a link https://www.musicliveshere.com The park is famous for numerous outdoor music festivals and borders the Suwannee River with many hiking trails as well as access to the Florida National Scenic Trail, Floridas equivalent to the famous Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. Many of the North Florida Trailblazers FT chapter will be camping and RVing at the park Thursday thru Monday to set up and run this event so we invite all hikers and campers to come out and make the Ididahike a part of a weekend or long weekend. The Trailblazers will also organize short day hikes on Friday and Sunday for those interested. The Ididahike main event begins and ends at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and will be approximately 11 miles with first aid and sag stations to be announced in a later post. This time of year dogwoods, wild Azaleas, fringe flowers and many others will be in full bloom. The hike passes High above Jerry Branch, passes Disappearing Creek a beautiful clear creek that cuts a narrow canyon which cascades into a 25 foot wall of rock and disappears. Continuing on hikers cross Crooked branch then climbs on high to the highest bluff on the Suwannee River. From this perch you may look out over the top of the trees on the opposite bank and peer down on the historic Suwannee below. Hiking down river, the trail passes numerous rock outcrops 20 and 30 feet above the river along with beautiful white sandbars offering great places to take a break. Near the end of the hike participants will cross the Suwannee on the old 129 Truss bridge and have the option to visit the ruins of the historic Suwannee mineral Spring before they finish. Please come join us on Friday night for a FTA group campfire. Spirt of the Suwannee offers a wide range of accommodations including 600 improved campsites, comfortable cabins, live music Friday and Saturday, a fully stocked bar and restaurant. Please call Carol Walker at Spirt of the Suwannee for a 10% discount for camping accommodations.

Past events (115)

Photos (794)