Project Leaders Celebrate Completion After Two Decades of Collaboration
The City of Jacksonville’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department (JaxParks), along with its partners Florida Park Service (FPS), National Park Service (NPS), North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) and Timucuan Parks Foundation (TPF), have branded the 5,600 acres of contiguous conservation lands in northeast Jacksonville that are linked by trails and waterways as the 7 Creeks Recreation Area
. The destination is named for the number of creeks that surround the contiguous park lands of Betz-Tiger Point Preserve (JaxParks), Bogey Creek Preserve (NFLT), Cedar Point Preserve (JaxParks), Cedar Point (NPS), Jim Wingate Preserve (JaxParks), Pescatello Island (NFLT) and Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park (FPS). In addition to the new name, the seven parks included in the system received several upgrades that will improve their interconnectivity and enhance visitors’ experiences.
“Branding this collection of parks as the 7 Creeks Recreation Area allows the City of Jacksonville and our partner agencies an opportunity to promote the area as one destination that offers a wealth of nature-based experiences and facilities that benefit of our park visitors,” said Daryl Joseph, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.
Michael Corrigan, president and CEO of Visit Jacksonville added: “We are thrilled to be able to promote this new recreation area to visitors from around the world. Jacksonville is already known for our exceptional parks and preserves, and adding a wonderful asset like the 7 Creeks Recreation Area makes this area even more appealing for outdoor enthusiasts.”
The 7 Creeks Recreation Area, which starts near the intersection of New Berlin and Cedar Point roads, and runs east to Black Hammock Island in northeast Jacksonville, offers more than 30 miles of natural-surface trails that could occupy days of hiking, biking, horseback riding, and exploring diverse ecosystems. The unspoiled lands are surrounded by expansive saltmarsh of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve that provide an extensive web of tidal creeks for kayakers, boaters, paddleboarders and fishermen.
The trails on all the properties have been expanded, improved and/or re-marked to offer easier navigation for hikers, off-road cyclists, and horseback riders. Additionally, the designation of a 7-mile route named the 7 Creeks Trail that traverses most of the properties highlights some of the most scenic points of interest. Two new trailhead/picnic areas have also been developed: one at the north end of Betz-Tiger Point Preserve that includes a new kayak launch and fishing platform on Edwards Creek, and the second located at Cedar Point Preserve on Black Hammock Island. For paddlers, multiple kayak launches provide access to the extensive network of tidal creeks and rivers that surround the 7 Creek Recreation Area and are featured in both the Timucuan Trail Waterway Guide and the latest paddling guide that has been developed for the Nassau River-Thomas Creek waterways.
“The 7 Creeks Recreation Area offers a treasure trove of outdoor activities and is sure to attract hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and anyone else who is looking to make a new discovery in our state,” said Director of Florida State Parks Eric Draper. “Factor in the multitude of opportunities for health and wellness provided by the 7 Creeks Recreation Area, and I’m sure that it will soon be recognized as a jewel of Jacksonville, of the state of Florid, and the Southeastern United States.”
“We are thrilled to be part of this partnership and provide an opportunity for the public to access one of the most beautiful places in the City of Jacksonville, just minutes from downtown,” stated Jim McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust.
The collaborating park agencies have a long-standing, unique and nationally recognized partnership that enables them to manage the properties together in an effort to provide an interconnected and seamless experience for park visitors.
Mark Middlebrook, executive director of the Timucuan Parks Foundation stated: “The partnership between our park partners at the city, state and federal level was established more than 20 years ago to protect our natural spaces and build a network of nature preserves that all can enjoy. The new 7 Creeks Recreation Area is a result of that collaboration. With the support of Timucuan Parks Foundation and our fellow nonprofit North Florida Land Trust, the public lands agencies have created a vast network of preserves with unique vistas that can’t be found in any other city in the U.S.”
“Building a network of parks in the northeast corner of Jacksonville has been years in the making,” said Timucuan Preserve Superintendent Chris Hughes. “By working together with our partners, we are able to provide longer trails, more recreational opportunities, and uninterrupted natural corridors for wildlife. We accomplish more together than any one agency working alone.”
For all the information needed to plan a visit to the 7 Creeks Recreation Area, visit 7CreeksJax.org
About Parks, Recreation and Community Services: The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PRCS) serves diverse populations of all ages and abilities through recreation activities and programs, conservation and marine resources, sports and entertainment, senior services, social services, disabled services, and extension services serving approximately 900,000 residents in Duval County. PRCS offers over 400 parks and recreational spaces. For more information about The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, visit COJ.net/Departments/parks-and-recreation.
About Florida State Parks: The Florida Park Service is the proud recipient of four National Gold Medals for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, making Florida America’s first four-time Gold Medal winner. The awards were received in 1999, 2005, 2013 and 2019 from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association. Florida’s 175 state parks, trails and historic sites inspire residents and visitors with recreation opportunities and scenic beauty that help strengthen families, educate children, expand local economies, and foster community pride. With nearly 800,000 acres, 100 miles of beaches, and more than 1,500 miles of multi-use trails, residents and visitors should plan to visit soon and often to enjoy Florida’s natural treasures. For more information, visit FloridaStateParks.org.
About National Park Service: About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at NPS.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
About North Florida Land Trust: North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the natural resources, historic places and working lands (farms and ranches) throughout north Florida. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit NFLT.org.
About Timucuan Parks Foundation: Timucuan Parks Foundation (TPF) is a not-for-profit organization that preserves, promotes, and enhances Jacksonville’s natural areas through community engagement, education, and enjoyment. It originated in 1999 with the Preservation Project Jacksonville, Inc. to identify and assist in acquiring the most vulnerable and environmentally sensitive lands in Duval County. The acquisitions created the largest urban park system in the United States. TPF works with their park partners, including the National Park Service, Florida State Parks, and the City of Jacksonville, to promote environmental stewardship, the health benefits of the parks and preserves, and an appreciation for Jacksonville’s special outdoor spaces. For more information, visit TimucuanParks.org.
About Visit Jacksonville: Visit Jacksonville is a Destinations International accredited Destination Marketing Organization contracted by the Duval County Tourist Development Council (TDC) to champion business and leisure tourism growth in Jacksonville. For a closer look at all there is to see and do in Jacksonville, go to VisitJacksonville.com or contact 800-733-2668.