We are excited to announce that this website is in transition. The Bartram Trail in Putnam County information is still here, but we are rebuilding as the Bartram Trail Society of Florida, which will provide statewide resources and information.
Currently, we provide information about Putnam’s upcoming Bartram event: The St. Johns River Bartram Frolic. You can find all information for this year’s Frolic on the front page.
About the Bartram Frolic
SAVE THE DATES for the 2021 Frolic on the Riverfront!
Join us as we celebrate our St. Johns River and the 247th anniversary of William Bartram’s 1774 travels through Palatka. April 17 & 18.
Recreational Events, nature-based booths & the Passport-to-the-Past Adventure be on the 17th, and the Bartram Symposium will be on the 18th.
About Our Bartram Heritage
In the fall of 1774 William Bartram experienced what is known as the Indian Frolic at Spalding’s Lower Store. His 9-month stay on his favorite river in Putnam County is documented in Bartram’s masterpiece TRAVELS. The annual St. Johns River Bartram Frolic on Palatka’s riverfront will celebrate our National Heritage River, the Bartram National Recreation Trail in Putnam County, and offer our county as a historic eco-tourism and recreation destination.
Schedule of Events
FRIDAY ACTIVITES – April 16th
- VIP Sponsors Reception in St. Johns River Center – 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM– By invitation only
- Bartram Springs-to-Springs paddle 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM. Guided tour departing from Acosta Marina in Welaka (Four Bartram sites)
- Johns River Bartram Frolic on the Riverfront – 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM: Includes the following:
- Passport-to-the-Past – The St. Johns River Center will host an educational activity for school-aged youth visiting ten education stations and living historians to learn about our river and its history. Those completing the activity will be rewarded. This is great for the whole family. Register near the St. Johns River Center.
- Living History on the Riverfront – Meet William Bartram, the Long Warrior “King of the Seminoles”, Bartram’s guide and European trader Job Wiggins, Ft. Mose’ militia and families, and 18th Century residents of Florida.
- Food Trucks on St. Johns Avenue – 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Nature-based Vendors, Demonstrations and Environmental Groups – booths along the riverfront and St. Johns Avenue.
- Tales and Songs of the St. Johns River 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM: will: This will be a schedule of storytellers, and musicians with tales and songs of the St. Johns River. Held at the amphitheater
- Bartram Trail Equestrian Ride at Dunns Creek State Park – 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM: Friends of Dunns Creek State Park will host equestrians for trail rides in the park (one Bartram site). Reservations are required and limited.
- Bartram Historic Rollestown Kayaking Tour – 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM: A guided paddle from Palatka’s Riverfront Park to Rollestown and return. See website and Facebook for reservations and details.
- Bartram Historic Tour at Mount Royal – 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: National Historic Mount Royal guided tour and stroll in Welaka. A Quaker Friend will share information. Reservations are recommended.
- Pride of Palatka Guided River Boat Tours – 1:00 PM Johns Riverkeeper Cruise; 3:00 PM Bartram National Recreation Trail St. Johns River Cruise; Bartram Sunset Wine Cruise – 5:00PM – 7:00 PM Reservations for all cruises are required – see website and Facebook
- Pontoon boat tours 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM: NORTHSTAR CHARTERS will provide tours from the Riverfront.
- Bicycling Tour Historic, Homes, Murals and Ravine Gardens – 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM: A guided bicycle tour of historic home and murals from the riverfront (includes five Bartram sites) – Reservations are recommended.
- Palatka Riverfront and Murals Walk – 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Guided walk through historic downtown Palatka including three Bartram sites. Reservations recommended.
- Bartram Birthday Party – 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Azalea City Brewery will host Bartram’s 282nd birthday party.
SUNDAY ACTIVITIES – April 18th
- Puc Puggy Trail Hike / Water Works / Ravine Gardens State Park – 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM: A guided hike from the Ravine Gardens State Park to the Water Work Environmental Education Center and the Puc Puggy nature trail. Reservations are required and limited.
- Spalding’s Lower Store Paddle – 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Guided historic paddle through Seven Sisters Islands to Bartram’s home while on the St. Johns River in 1774. Reservations required.
- Palatka Riverfront to Ravines Bicycle Ride – 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM: Guided ride from the riverfront through Ravine Gardens State Park. Reservations are recommended.
- Palatka Historic Homes and Murals Bicycle Ride – 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Guided casual ride through downtown Palatka’s historic homes, historic sites and murals.
- Bartram Symposium – 2:00 PM – 5:00 pm: The Symposium in the Jim Pignato Theater will feature six Bartram scholars and experts – Dr. Kathryn Braund will discuss her new edition on southeastern Indians; Dr. Dorinda Dallmeyer will talk about her book “Bartram’s Living Legacy” as the inspiration for the PBS film CULTIVATING THE WILD; Dr. Christopher Robinson will describe his quest to locate Bartram Trail markers across the southeast and his unique style of presenting travel presentations; Bartram Trail Conference president Sam Carr will explain the status of the Bartram Trail Society of Florida and the Bartram Trail National Heritage Area. Jim Sawgrass and Eric Breitenbach will introduce CULTIVATING THE WILD.
Passport to the Past
Kids can register to the St. Johns River Center to get a passport for the events.
Passport to the Past is an educational adventure that’s fun for the entire family. Visit each of the ten stations from William Bartram’s travels to Putnam County in 1765 and 1774.
With each one you complete, you collect a new sticker or stamp to place in your official Passport to the Past booklet for a prize, including:
- Living History (5 Stations) – Visit with Billy Bartram, Long Warrior: King of the Seminoles, Job Wiggens and Fort Mose’ militia and villagers
- St. Johns River exploration (3) – Join in the exploration of water-based ecology and adventures
- Bartram’s Florida Cracker horses – See Florida’s histori treasure of the Seminole horses known as the Florida Cracker horse.
- Native Plants – Learn about local plants and the flower that William Bartram found and named for his father’s friend Benjamin Franklin
Continue your Adventure to visit more than 20 interactive exhibits of riverfront demonstrations with crafts, music, local exhibits, and Billy Bartram’s Birthday Party
Guided Bicycle Tours
Bicycle tour of Historic Homes & Murals
Saturday, April 17, 2:30-4:00 pm
This leisurely bicycle ride will meander along brick streets of the North and South Historic districts of Palatka to view some beautiful historic homes. We will stop to learn about some of the hand-painted murals near St. Johns Avenue and various designated Bartram Sites. It is a great way to learn about this historic town. Meet at clock tower at Palatka’s Riverfront Park and bring a helmet & bicycle in good working order. The leaders for this event are Linda Crider (352) 359-0623 & Tom Hepp.
Bicycle Tour of Palatka’s Riverfront, Historic Homes & Ravine Gardens
Sunday, April 18, 9:30-11:00 am
This leisure tour will weave through the North and South Historic district neighborhoods looking at some of Palatka’s finest homes before climbing a gradual hill to Ravine Gardens and the 1.8-mile paved road around the Gardens. We will take a short stop for those wanting to walk the unforgettable suspension bridge before the downhill cruise back to the start at the riverfront. (approximate 6-mile ride.) Meet at clock tower in Riverfront Park and bring a helmet and bicycle in good working order.
Your leader is Linda Crider (352) 359-0623.
Bicycle tour of Ravine Gardens and Palatka’s Historic Homes & Murals
Sunday, April 18, 10:00-11:30 am
Ravine Gardens is a highlight of the Palatka and Putnam County area with a 1.8-mile paved trail around the park. We will climb the hill at the end and continue from the park to Palatka’s riverfront, meandering through the Historic neighborhoods and along St. Johns Avenue to view hand-painted murals depicting the history of the town. (approximately 6 miles with some gradual hills & brick streets)
Meet inside Ravine Gardens State Park at front of Administration building. Bring a helmet and bicycle in good working order. The leaders are Tom Hepp (207) 323-3133 & Linda Crider (352) 359-0623.
Pride of Palatka Riverboat Tour
The Pride of Palatka II, operated by the Boathouse Marina, will offer guided riverboat tours two times on Saturday, September 28, during the festival. The 2-hour cruises on the St. Johns River will feature historic and Bartram Trail sites. Itinerary: Riverfront, upstream to Dunns Creek or Murphy Island (15 mi) and return. There is also a sunset wine cruise Saturday. Pre-registration is required. All cruises will depart from the south floating dock by the clock tower. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
Pride of Palatka St. Johns Riverkeeper Cruise
Saturday, April 17th, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Adults: $25 Children under 13: $15
Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman will be your guide on the two-hour cruise.
There will also be a local river scientist as an additional guide.
Please arrive at the floating dock by 11:15 am.
Pride of Palatka Bartram National Recreation Trail Cruise
Saturday, April 17th, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
There will be an emphasis on the wonders of exploring the Bartram National Recreation Trail in Putnam County. An expert on the Trail will be your guide.
Please arrive at the floating dock by 1:45 pm.
Pride of Palatka Sunset Wine Cruise
Saturday, April 17th 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Adults: $40 Children under 13: $20
Bartram’s words from his masterpiece “TRAVELS” will be shared. Please arrive at the floating dock by 5:15 pm.
Music & Tales of the St. Johns River
At the Amphitheater – NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED
Bartram Songs and Stories of the St Johns River will be held on Saturday, April 17th 11:00 – 4:00 PM
- Storytelling Sims
- Lonesome Bert and his Thick and Thin Band
- Sunni Krantz
- 7 lbs. of Bacon Bluegrass Band
- Sam Wimberly
- Chuck Hardwick
Between 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday, April 17th.
William Bartram (1735-1823)
Mike Adams as William Bartram.
William Bartram’s exploration of Florida is familiar to people throughout the world, thanks to the publication TRAVELS in 1791 – America’s first literary masterpiece. William Bartram (his friends and family called him Billy) came to Putnam County two times. The first time was with his father, John in 1765. The second time, in April 1774 was to explore and document what he found. Bartram’s discoveries and illustrations of nature documented tropical flora and fauna and his vivid descriptions made his book a worldwide sensation. His book has descriptions of his encounters with the native people. While in Florida, he drew over 50 illustrations of plants, animals, fish, turtles and birds. Locally we are largely unaware of the importance of his explorations and subsequent writings to literary history, environmental science and the settlement and later development of Florida. He and his cast of characters are uniquely ours – “They belong to Putnam County – it’s your history and heritage.”
The Long Warrior
Jim Sawgrass as “Micco-Chlucco The Long Warrior, King of the Seminoles”
The Long Warrior is representative of the Native Americans present in our area during the time of Bartram’s visits to Florida (1765-1774). The Long Warrior is spoken of several times in TRAVELS always with respect and in a positive light. Bartram first met the Long Warrior at the Treaty of Picollata in 1765 near St. Augustine. He is seen as a strong and intelligent leader. Billy’s illustration of Mico-Chlucco, The Long Warrior – “King of the Seminoles” was his only portrait. The Long Warrior will be one of the living history actors at the Frolic. He was a much-respected friend of William’s and was instrumental in enabling him to safely travel throughout Florida in 1774.
Robert Wilson, aka Job Wiggens – Bartram’s friend, guide and interpreter.
William Bartram was befriended by Job Wiggens on his travels in Florida. Bartram said “the old interpreter, Job Wiggens, often my travelling companion, friend and benefactor.”
Bartram resided at Spalding’s Lower Store which was Florida’s main trading post with the Indians (Native Americans). Wiggens was the main negotiator and interpreter for the Store and took Bartram along on his ventures across Florida. Bartram calls him “the old trader” and “the old interpreter”.
Guided Kayak Tours
Paddling the Shoreline of Bartram’s Four Spring Hike
Friday, April 16, 12:30 – 4:00 pm
Paddle with Bartram expert Dean Campbell along the shoreline of the St. Johns River parallel to the path hiked by John and William Bartram in 1765 as they visited four springs on their hike to present-day Welaka.
Palatka to Rollestown Loop Paddle
Saturday, April 17, 8:30 am – 1:00 pm
Join Bartram expert Dean Campbell as he follows in the wake of John and William Bartram along the path of their Christmas Day 1775 voyage from the Palatka riverfront to the location of historic Rollestown where the Bartrams spent Christmas night on the banks of the St. Johns River in present-day East Palatka.
Paddling to the historic site of Spalding’s Lower Store
Sunday, April 18, 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Paddle with Bartram expert Dean Campbell to the historic site of Spalding’s Lower Store. During William Bartram’s second visit to Florida in 1774, he made Spalding’s Lower Store the base of operations for his various land and water explorations. It was here that he made many of his drawings and compiled his reports to his benefactor, Dr. Fothergill, for shipment to England.
Guided Hikes & History
Memorial at Mount Royal
Saturday, April 17, 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Join us atop the 700 year old Indian Mound for a presentation of the history of the mound and of the Indian presence in Florida, as well as of William Bartram’s visits to the mound. A Quaker Friend will read William’s touching prayer of thanksgiving and oneness.
Palatka Riverfront and Murals Walk
Saturday, April 17, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Come along for a guided stroll through historic downtown Palatka, including three Bartram sites.
Hike into Ravine Gardens and along the Puc Puggy Nature Trail
Sunday, April 18, 10:30 am – 12 noon
Come along on a trek down into the Ravine, crossing a suspension bridge, and along the crystal-clear water of the spring run to the old Palatka Water Works plant. From there we will hike the Puc Puggy Nature Trail, stopping at the Gopher Tortoise Habitat, the Bartram Glade, The Bartram Woods/Layers of Forests, and the Organic Community Garden, each of which has a kiosk with commentary on the area. Afterwards, participants will be able to explore the ravine further on their own.
Bartram Trail Equestrian Ride at Dunns Creek State Park
Sat, April 17, 2021
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM EDT
In honor of the Florida Cracker Horse as first observed and recorded by William Bartram in 1774.
Join Friends of Dunns Creek State Park in a day ride event in honor of the Florida Cracker Horse as first observed and recorded by William Bartram in 1774. The park opens at 8:00 AM. A negative Coggins is required for each horse.Those who wish to ride out unaccompanied may begin at any time. A guided ride will start at 10:00 AM and end at noon or so.
NOTE: No ticket sales at gate, only contactless through Eventbrite.
Bring your printed ticket(s) to the event.
In addition, we will be following all applicable CDC guidelines related to COVID-19.
Food and Drink
There will be Food Trucks available 10:00 am- 4:00 pm Saturday, April 17th.
Bartram Birthday Party – 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Azalea City Brewery will host Bartram’s 282nd birthday party.
Sunday, April 18th, 2:00 PM – 5:00 pm
The Symposium in the Jim Pignato Theater will feature six Bartram scholars and experts:
Dr. Kathryn Braund will discuss her new edition on southeastern Indians
Dr. Dorinda Dallmeyer will talk about her book “Bartram’s Living Legacy” as the inspiration for the PBS film CULTIVATING THE WILD
Dr. Christopher Robinson will describe his quest to locate Bartram Trail markers across the southeast and his unique style of presenting travel presentations
Bartram Trail Conference president Sam Carr will explain the status of the Bartram Trail Society of Florida and the Bartram Trail National Heritage Area.
Jim Sawgrass and Eric Breitenbach will introduce CULTIVATING THE WILD.
We are no longer accepting vendors this year.
Bartram Inn Bed & Breakfast
116 Kirkland Street
Palatka, FL 32177
Special rate for Frolic
Best Western Inn of Palatka
119 US Highway 17 S
East Palatka, FL 32131
Crystal Cove Riverfront Resort & Suites
133 Crystal Cove Riverfront Resort Dr
Palatka, FL 32177
Georgia Boys Fish Camp
217 Butler Drive
Satsuma, FL 32189
Grand Gables Inn Bed & Breakfast
603 Emmett Street
Palatka, FL 32177
100 Memorial Parkway
Palatka, FL 32177
Smita Patel, Manager
Holiday Inn Express Palatka Northwest
3813 Reid Street
Palatka, FL 32177
Quality Inn & Suites
201 N 1st Street
Palatka, FL 32177
100 Federal Street
Palatka, FL 32177
Sleep Inn & Suites
3805 Reid Street
Palatka, FL 32177
Private Boat Tours and Boat Rentals
Available from the riverfront by local businesses ongoing from 10:00 – 5:00. Please make reservations directly with the vendors. For reservations contact: