1. Stay at Faraway Inn – Located at 847 Third Street (at the corner of Third and G Streets). http://www.farawayinn.com – Now accepting on-line reservations. We welcome responsible pet owners and well-behaved pets. No size or breed restrictions for dogs. Pets on leashes are allowed on most beaches and in some outdoor seating restaurants. Set within a quiet, attractive residential area, but within a short 5 minute walk past Victorian and traditional Cracker homes to restaurants, bars, convenience stores, shops, boat launches, the public beach and the city dock. All accommodations are ground floor, spread out over half of a city block of shaded flowered gardens.
3. Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Trail – (0.6 mile) follows the historic bed of the Cedar Key railroad, completed in 1861 and abandoned in the 1930’s. A wide variety of local scrub species, such as yaupon holly with its bright red berries and black mangrove, crowd pleasantly on both sides of the sandy, elevated trail, which offers occasional tantalizing glimpses of the water. Trail-side signs detail flora species along the path, making this an excellent walk for anyone interested in gardening or local plants. The trail ends at the water with an overlook of a small, shallow bay where the stumps of the abandoned trestle thrusts up from the narrow crossing point of the old railroad. Direction: From SR 24 in Cedar Key turn on Grove Street (about a 1.5 miles from the Channel 4 bridge): park adjacent the information kiosk (on the right). Open during the day. No picnicking, swimming, boat docking, kayak/canoe launch. No fishing or plant removal.
4. Cedar Key Scrub State Preserve – has twelve miles of jeep trails primarily used for hiking. The the 4,988-acre scrub is cut by SR 24 with trails in both sides and is made up of tidal marsh, cypress swamp, scrub oak and flatwoods. Among others, the wetlands provide habitat for roseate spoonbill. The Scrub is located on SR 24, six miles east of Cedar Key. Download a trail map at floridastateparks.org/cedarkeysrub. PETS – Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and cannot be left unattended for more than a half-hour.
5. Cedar Key State Museum State Park – Whittman Trail – (approx. 0.75 mile loop) is a grassy, circular trail that meanders from its entrance in the park grounds under pines and other hardwoods, open out to a view of the water where black mangroves and other scrub species dominate, curves away from the water and plunges deeper into the quiet of the pine and cedar flatwoods before emptying out back into the park grounds. Relax or watch birds from the bench at the waterfront. Directions: From SR 24 in Cedar Key follow the signs to Cedar Key Museum State Park. The trail and museum grounds are open until sunset. The museum and historic Whitman House are open Thursday – Monday 9-5.
6. Shell Mound Trail – (0.3 mile) offers plenty. It plunges into a quiet of woods before reaching the shell mound, the largest remaining on the Gulf Coast, covering five acres and reaching 25 feet above sea level. The crunchy shell and leaf-debris trail skirts and crosses the mound where trees now cling to the ancient shell bed. At the top, a seat offers a shady ocean view. Further on the trail turns left to a fishing pier (also accessible by road) or can be followed back to the road through a thickly wooded area.
7. Atsena Otie Key nature and historic trail – (approx. 1 mile loop) is on a small island located about .5 mile off Cedar Key beach. A walking trail across the island to a 19th century cemetery. There is also an indian midden, historic ruins of the Faber Mill, boardwalk and information kiosk. Wading and shorebirds are plentiful. Access is by water only. Water taxis’s are available on the Cedar Key waterfront. Directions: Take SR 24 to Cedar Key.
8. Lower Suwannee NWR, Nature Drive – (9 miles, plus side roads) is a wide, hard dirt road through bottomland hardwood swamps, pine flatlands cypress domes, natural creeks and sloughs, and by several ponds, in the drier upland areas, look for flowers such as cheerful yellow black-eyed Susan blooming summer through fall, and delicate purple skullcap in spring through fall. Ponds and roadside ditches are filled with summer-blooming water lillies. In many swampy areas tree trunks are festooned with air plants: some trunks are covered nearly top to bottom. A colored Lower Suwannw National Wildlife Refuge map showing the Nature Drive can be downloaded at fws.gov/lowersuwannee (click on publications) Directions: approx. 16 miles from Chiefland. Take US 19 to CR435; right on CR330 which leads to State Road 347 south. Follow the Nature Drive Signs. From the mail loop there are three side trips: Pond 4 Road (approx. 1 mile), Barnett Creek Road (approx. 1 mile), McCormick Creek Road (a short distance), and Cabin Road (approx. 1.5 miles). There are also gated roads open to open foot and bicycle traffic. Between Cabin Road and Barnett Creek Road, 2.3 miles from the south entry point to the drive, is a boardwalk to a roofed observation platform nestled in the trees where egrets, ibis, and herons can be seen feeding and can be photographed. The prettiest trail is Barnett Creek Look (2.8 mile loop) which passes through freshwater swamp, hydric hammock and salt marsh. For more a trail guide go to friendsofrefuges.org and click on trail guides.
Remember: Many of the trails are remote. You may encounter potentially dangerous wildlife such as alligators, snakes or wild hogs. Ticks are common on grassy areas and poison ivy vines grow on many of the trees along the trail. Stay on the trails, watch where you place your feet and check for ticks when you leave the woods. During the hunting season where bright colored clothing, or plan your trip for another time. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Be-aware that your cell pones may not work.