One of Jacksonville’s most well-known geographical features is the presence of the St. Johns River.
The city itself grew alongside the river, which cuts through the center of Jax on its way down Florida’s east coast, and it even carries the nickname “River City” referring primarily to the St. Johns. In fact, the mammoth river’s presence is so ubiquitous that it tends to overshadow the city’s other rivers – many of which are tributaries of the St. Johns River.
The largest of those other rivers is the Trout River, located on the Northside. The river runs from just past I-295 near US-1 eastward to Sandfly Point, where it connects with the St. Johns, creating a span of around twenty miles.
The river splits off into three smaller tributaries: Ribault River, Little Trout River, and Moncrief Creek. Ribault River, named for French officer Jean Ribault, is the longest of the three at over six miles long.
Four different roads have bridges that cross the Trout River: I-295, Lem Turner Road, I-95, and Main Street/US-17. The span across I-95 is often referred to as the Trout River Bridge; it was expanded from four lanes to six back in the mid-2000s.
An older version of the Main Street span served as the original Trout River Bridge, built in the 1930s; it’s since been decommissioned and replaced, but the majority of the original bridge still exists as a pedestrian-accessible pier.
The span that crosses Lem Turner Road is officially named the C. Ray Greene Bridge in honor of a former Duval County commissioner.
Several restaurants and marinas line the river, but by far its most notable attraction is the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens along its north bank. Built on over a hundred acres at the river’s mouth to replace a municipal zoo in Springfield, the zoo has grown significantly since its debut in 1925. Among its features are a riverfront restaurant and plaza.
Along the river’s south bank is North Shore Park, which provides scenic views as well as a kayak launch. The park was formed in conjunction with the development of the North Shore neighborhood in the 1910s.
As is the case with the St. Johns River, the quality of the water in the Trout River is relatively poor. Samples taken in 2018 show the presence of heavy metals and fecal contamination. Nonetheless, it remains a popular fishing destination for nearby residents.
The Trout River may not have the glamour of the St. Johns, but next time you hear someone call Jacksonville the “River City,” remind them that there’s more than one river here in Jax.