In our “Hidden Gems” article series, we take a look at and highlight some of the less-appreciated buildings, businesses, and more here in the Jacksonville area.
Jacksonville’s extensive system of railroad tracks has offered the city several advantages. It helps us act as a logistics hub, allows for less giant semis lugging railcars on the road, and one day may even provide the framework for commuter rail services.
But you might not know about another development that Jax’s railroad-heavy history has allowed for: the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail.
The Rail Trail runs from Imeson Road to Brandy Branch Road, a span of 14.5 miles. It features three paths that run parallel to each other: a paved pathway, an unpaved pathway, and a third trail that was added for horse-riding.
The trail was created by the city in 1992 on a stretch of unused railroad tracks it purchased from CSX, and it has since been upgraded with additions such as the equestrian trail and public restrooms at the Baldwin station and the Imeson trailhead.
It runs through the entire town of Baldwin, which exists within Duval County and is surrounded by Jax on all sides. At the Baldwin station, public restrooms are available along with park benches and a skate park.
It also passes through Camp Milton Historic Preserve, which commemorates the site of a former Civil War fortification point. The site features many placards explaining the history of Jacksonville’s Civil War involvement and commemorating various figures – some arguably not so worthy of commemoration – from the Civil War era. It also features a beautiful park and a Florida-cracker style house.
The Rail Trail is a great place to go for a bike ride, to bring the dog (on a leash, of course), or go for a nice jog in nature. And its location not too far off of I-295 makes it relatively accessible for all Jax residents.
Next time you’re feeling like exploring nature, take a trip to the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail. You’ll be amazed that such an awesome resource isn’t packed with people!