If you’re looking for some time away from Amelia Island’s beach community, you need not travel far to take a walk in the woods. A 45-minute drive to Hilliard will bring you to Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest, where you can hike or cycle several miles of trails.
Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest offers visitors the scenic beauty of the St. Marys River, which forms the northern boundary of the forest and serves as the forest’s primary water source. The River and two oxbow lakes, along with numerous cypress stands, ponds, and swamps provide an abundance of fish and serve as water sources for wildlife.
The forest features many excellent examples of natural communities including longleaf pine, low pinelands, seepage bogs, and ravines. Fox, wild turkey, bobcat, gopher tortoise, and otter are some of the wildlife frequently seen.
The 3-mile Red Dot and Yellow Dot Trails form a figure-8 loop of easy hiking or trail running, mostly on forest service roads. The White Dot Trail is a 6.5-mile trail that delves deeply into the heart of the forest and skirts the northern boundary and the St. Marys River. There are two primitive campsites located in this section if you want to take an overnight trip.
For maps and more information visit https://myfwc.com/recreation/cooperative/ralph-e-simmons/.