Bartram Trail in Clay County

Contact for the developing Bartram Trail in Clay County

If you have questions or want to get involved in developing this part of the Bartram Trail, see the contact below.

Clay County Parks and Recreation
Hours: Monday-Friday
8 a.m. -4:30 p.m.


Clay County Overview

William Bartram visited present-day Clay County numerous times during his two trips to Florida, first in 1765 with his father, John Bartram, and again in 1774 during the trip he later chronicled in his book Travels.

William Bartram visited Clay County on this date. He and his father crossed the St. Johns from Fort Picolata on the east shore to a site which may have been Fort San Francisco de Pupo south of Bayard Point on the River’s west shore. They explored the area before returning across the River, but did not describe the fort, remnants of which remained.

The explorers entered Clay County by crossing the St. Johns after having camped somewhere near Fort Picolata. The visited Fort San Francisco de Pupo and John measured and described its remains. It is unclear if the group then crossed the river to present day Popo Point before returning to the west shore, or continued along the west shore to a camping spot just south of the mouth of Black Creek. The following morning, they proceeded up Black Creek to the confluence of the north and south forks where Caldwall’s Store was located. Over the course of the two days, they paddled about five miles up both forks and lodged at Caldwall’s Store twice before returning to the River and the plantation from which their journey had begun.

They circumnavigated the Doctor’s Lake, spending one night on its shoreline and exploring Swimming Pen Creek and the Lake’s shoreline in several locations before returning to the St. Johns.

William returned to Florida in 1774, and it is upon this trip that his book Travels is based. William first returned to Clay County in mid-April of 1774. On this occasion, he was headed upriver to Spalding’s Lower Store in present-day Putnam County when he crossed the river from Fort Picolata to a location probably in the cove at the mouth of Clarks Creek. He camped here and, largely due to inclement weather, spent some time exploring the area and looking for interesting plants before continuing upriver late the following day.

His second visit to Clay County during his 1774 journey is not recorded in his book Travels but can be found in his Report to his benefactor, Dr. John Fothergill. During the summer of 1774, William left the Lower Store and paid a visit to Governor Tonyn’s plantation, which was located at the mouth of Black Creek near present-day Camp Chowenwah Park in Green Cove Springs. He only spent a short time there before returning to the Lower Store.