Eagans Creek Greenway in Fernandina Beach

Mid-section of trail. Eagans Creek Greenway.

Pre-Covid, I’d visited Eagans Creek Greenway in Fernandina Beach, Florida; but the weather was hot, I found the trail signs difficult to interpret, and swarms of mosquitos turned me back at the halfway point.

Today, the temperature was moderate, the sun was shining, and many trails in Central Florida were flooded, so I decided to revisit Eagans Creek on the east coast.

The main trailhead is located at a recreation center at 2500 Atlantic. There is a large, paved lot and, on weekdays, restrooms are available at the west end of the complex (where the swimming pool is located). The trail begins at the rear of the center, behind the swimming pool and near the Pirate Playground.

During today’s visit, I didn’t use the trail markers. Instead I relied on memory and a map downloaded from AllTrails. This made navigating the path easy.

The Greenway passes through swampland and, depending on rainfall and tidal flow, there may be standing water on either side of the trail. Like all well-constructed swamp passages, the trail is wide and roadlike, allowing visitors to spot and avoid lounging snakes and gators. The width also allows cyclists to pass pedestrians easily.

Scenic view from bridge at Eagans Creek.

As one walks, they come across two side-paths with bridges, which allow area residents to cross onto the trail. The bridges are worth visiting, for scenic views and to spot migratory birds and alligators.

This 5-foot gator is missing its nostrils.

Today, a pale-gray alligator rested near one of the bridges. Her coloration was unusual, since most gators are black or dark-brown. But this may have been an indicator of poor health. Her mouth looked strange and, as I processed my photographs, I realized she had no nostrils. I wonder if this was a birth defect, or if she lost her nose from an act of violence. A territorial dispute? A frightened human? An encounter with a boat?

At the halfway point, Eagans Creek Greenway crosses two-lane Jasmine Street and jags west via a sidewalk edged by wildflowers. The earthen trail soon resumes in a southerly direction.

This southern half of trail is where you’re most likely to see wildlife and encounter insects. There were many butterflies and dragonflies, innumerable turtles, and a variety of songbirds. A Green Heron ignored me as it stalked fish beneath the duckweed. It’s likely there were hidden gators beneath the extensive pond vegetation.

At one point, I heard growling reminiscent of my cat when he visits the vet. It may have been a domestic cat or a bobcat. In either case, the uncertain vocalizations seem directed at me, so I backed a ways down the path and moved on.

At the southernmost point of the trail, I encountered a short, muddy section filled with mosquitos. Bicycle tracks revealed the mud to be several inches deep.

I came across other people on all parts of the Greenway, although there were more visitors north of Jasmine Street.

There was additional parking on Jasmine, between Jean Lafette Boulevard and Citrona Drive. Here, parking spaces are limited and one must back onto the roadway. However, if one wanted to do only the southern section of trail, this would be the place to park. Note that there are no facilities.

When visiting the Greenway, remember to bring water, since most paths are exposed. Sunscreen and insect repellent are also advisable. There were worn alligator pull-outs throughout the park; be watchful for wildlife.

Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She has a passion for day-hiking and nature, and also enjoys writing. Be sure to visit the TenPaths YouTube channel, which is still in its infancy.

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