The open farmland of Elkton is just a few miles from the bustling streets of St. Augustine. There are many outdoor recreational opportunities in this quiet agricultural area of St. Johns County. Butterflies, birds, and bees roam freely among the crops in the Spring and a popular corn maze opens in the Fall. This area of town is known for its potatoes, so much so, that a group of Minorcans named their area Spuds. Get your hands dirty and bask under the shade of trees in some of the local public parks for a fun afternoon.
This park includes a picnic area, playground, pavilion, basketball court, and a paved multi-use path that is part of the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail. Armstrong Park is located within a historically Black community that is rich in heritage and many of the residents are Gullah Geechee. Historical markers along the trail identify points of interest and railroad relics. The 12 foot wide, multi-use trail runs along SR 207. This part of the trail offers children a nice round trip under a canopy of trees.
Vermont Heights Park
This is a sweet, little neighborhood park. There is a playground, a picnic bench, swings, and a basketball court.
Vermont Heights Trailhead (Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail)
This is a trailhead for the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail. It is a 12 foot wide paved path perfect for biking, walking, and running. This trailhead has a picnic area with a large fan, an area for parking, and bathrooms. The path runs alongside SR207 to the west and continues toward the city of St. Augustine to the east. The path currently ends at the old railroad tracks on the east portion, but there are plans to extend the trail into downtown St. Augustine, connecting it to St. Augustine Beach.
Vermont Blvd. Trailhead (Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail)
This is a small parking area for the Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail. There are no facilities at this location. It is the farthest East you can park on the trail. If you travel from this area to the East, the path ends at the old railroad tracks about a mile from the parking lot. You can travel 35 miles (round trip) to Palatka if you follow the trail to the West.
Armstrong Park Trailhead (Palatka to St. Augustine State Trail)
This trailhead is located at Armstrong park, just down the road from the St. Johns County Fairgrounds. This park has a picnic area, bathrooms, a basketball court, a field, and a playground. For those with small children, follow the path to the East (turn right as you leave the park). You will travel beneath a canopy of trees for about a mile and a half before you need to cross a road. My children were able to bike to the Cora C. Harrison trailhead in Hastings (to the West around 5 miles away) from this park, but they needed a break and some food before we took the trail back to our car.
Deep Creek Conservation Area North
This conservation area is perfect for hiking, wildlife viewing, birding, and horseback riding. The trail is 2.7 miles round trip through pine flat woods. A map of the trail is available at the trailhead or online. Be sure to wear bug spray, wear sunscreen, and be aware of wildlife.
McCullough Creek Conservation Area West and East
This preserve is a passive park and recreational opportunities (such as biking and primitive camping) are being developed. The conservation area has two large parking areas to the East and West of the creek, with access to old logging trails. These paths are open for wildlife viewing, hiking, and trail running. I did not have cell phone service at these trailheads. The path is wide and exposed to the sun. Be sure to wear bug spray and sunscreen. Saturiwa Conservation Area, a privately owned homestead, is adjacent to McCullough Creek and a wonderful place to learn about this ecological treasure. I highly recommend a tour of this property for any local groups interested in conservation.
McCullough Creek Conservation Area West
This is a primitive boat ramp. The access point is to the West of the bridge over McCullough Creek between the two conservation parking lots. This is a lovely, secluded creek for kayaking. You can paddle to the St. Johns River, or paddle up the creek into the preserve area.
Frisbee Golf @ St. Johns County Fairgrounds
The Fairgrounds has a twenty-five hole Frisbee and disc golf course with bathrooms and shower facilities. The County Fairgrounds are also the location for many 4H events, concerts, rodeos, dog shows, horseshoe tournaments, family reunions, and recreational vehicle club gatherings.
This track is maintained and managed by First Coast BMX St Augustine. This is the place for your little daredevil to use their balance bike or for older kids to develop bike skills and learn to race. Some children, even the little ones on balance bikes, compete after their first practice! Contact the track operator for more information.
Sykes Family Farms
During the Fall, The Sykes Family opens their farm to the public. There are 9 acres to enjoy with your family with a corn maze, jump pads, animals, hayrides, and snacks available for purchase. This is quickly becoming a tradition for many St. Augustine families. The Sykes Family Farm has been open for 10 years of agriculture entertainment. There are hayrides, pumpkins, a playground, and farm animals.
LEAH NOELSenior Writer
Leah was born in the Wild West of California and raised in the beautiful bluegrass of Kentucky. She fell in love with the magic of St Augustine and moved here as a newlywed. She lives with four untamable children, a menagerie of animals and a loving husband. Leah spends most of her time trying to wrangle small beasts as they explore the world, tell her they don’t want what’s for dinner and complain about wearing shoes. Her favorite things are seeing the spark of discovery in little eyes and being creative. Leah loves to help and has a tender heart. She rarely meets someone she doesn’t like. Don’t be afraid to say hello if you see her out and about.