Upper Ravine Trail
Trails within the Arboretum are graded easiest, moderate, and more difficult based on terrain and length.
Trail Grade: Moderate
This is a 0.3-mile dirt hiking trail that connects to the Jones Creek Trail on the east end and to the trail head on the west end. A ravine extends east and west along the south side of the Lake Loop. The Upper Ravine Trail is located on the south side of the ravine and offers views of the ravine, particularly in winter. The trail drops down several feet to connect with the Jones Creek Trail on its east end.
Points of Interest
In the parking area, between the entrance drive and the upper Ravine Trail, is a deep, dry grassed retention pond. The pond is dry because the soil is very sandy and the water table here is about 25 feet below the surface of the ground. The dry retention pond was designed to capture oil, sediments, and other pollutants from the paved, parking area to prevent them from being discharged into the springs and streams at the bottom of the ravine, which lead to Jones Creek. As Jones Creek is a tributary of the St. Johns River, the dry retention pond also prevents pollutants from reaching the river. After it was constructed in 2008, the slopes of the pond were stabilized with cordgrass. Many native wildflowers, including blanket flower, broom sedge, coreopsis, and horsemint have made the retention pond their home.
The cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), a native plant of the southern United States, is the state tree of Florida. It can be found near the coast from the North Carolina barrier islands south to the Florida Keys and up the Gulf Coast to the northwestern Florida panhandle. The cabbage palm inhabits many different ecosystems, including beaches, sandy bay and estuary shores, the margins of tidal flats and marshlands where it often crowds into extensive groves, and inland in hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods. The cabbage palm is remarkably resistant to fire, floods, coastal conditions, cold, high winds and drought and is able to adapt to most types of soil. The cabbage palm grove at the Arboretum has been here for approximately 50 years.
The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is a majestic tree that once covered more than 90 million acres in the Southeastern coastal plains. Almost 97 percent of these trees are gone today. As they are difficult to grow, they were replaced by slash, loblolly, and other pines that grew more easily for timber. Nevertheless, the longleaf pine is an essential component in the restoration of native sandhill pineland communities. The young longleaf resembles a large tuft of grass. After its root system is established, it grows straight up to about seven to nine feet and resembles a large green candle stick. As it grows still taller, it develops lateral branches. Longleaf pines can live for more than 200 years. The Arboretum is planting longleaf pines in areas south of the Upper Ravine Trail.
As you gaze into the ravine, you will see a thriving wetland community of red maple, sweet gum, poplar, slash pine, rushes, ferns and sedges. It wasn’t always this way. What is now a beautiful spring-fed ravine began life as a borrow pit, a place where sand was excavated for use in construction projects. Over the years, however, Mother Nature healed the scar left by heavy machinery and created for us a place of wonderful contrasts. Have a seat on the bench and look around. As you face east, you will see the ravine to the left, and to the right, an upland forest of oaks, hickories, and southern magnolias. Nearby you will see a stately, live oak tree draped with Spanish moss. Spanish moss is not a parasite. It just uses the tree as a perch and absorbs water and nutrients from the air. The purple beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) bush is abundant here. Its brilliant purple fruits are an important food source for many Florida animals, such as bears, deer, hogs and birds.