The first time I visited Faver Dykes State Park, it was not an intentional visit. It was an emergency.
Driving south on I-95, travel trailer in tow, a torrential downpour forced us off the road at the entrance to Faver-Dykes, which is just off the highway.
Dusk was upon us, and it was obvious we wouldn’t go much further, so we drove through the wide open park gate. No ranger station. We kept driving, thinking we eventually would find the campground.
The park roads were unpaved, and the farther we went, the worse the flooding. Alas, I couldn’t see a campground in the rain, and water noisily sloshed around the wheels of my truck, practically floating my travel trailer.
We struggled back to I-95, south one more exit, and we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot.
RVers call it Wallydocking.
The Return to Faver-Dykes State Park
We returned to Faver-Dykes State Park the following spring to see what we missed. The park is known for superb kayaking on Pellicer Creek, and a nice paddle trail is right in our wheelhouse.
To reach the park, you have to drive through a nondescript residential area. The road dead ends at the park entrance. Once inside, there’s an honor box where you deposit your $5 admission.
Following the park road, this time in daylight, I was engaged by the dense forest and sweeping grass marshes of Pellicer Creek, instantly reminding me of the Low Country of the Carolinas and coastal Georgia, where the landscape is marked by forested islands and marshes.
After taking a short hike on the nature trail, a picturesque trek through flatwoods and scrub that loosely follows the creek, we moved down to the boat ramp, where I met a couple from North Carolina who spend their winters paddling Florida’s waterways.
Jack and Nanci LaMarre are serious kayakers. Their primary paddle destinations are in the Florida Keys, but they take their time on their way down and back for other Florida paddle trails.
Paddling Pellicer Creek at Faver-Dykes State Park
Jack and Nanci embarked on two 10-mile paddles from the boat launch at Faver-Dykes.
Their first trip took them upstream to explore a feeder creek known as the Cracker Branch.
In the account on their web site, which they graciously agreed to share, the Lamarres said the first three miles were uninteresting with continuous bends through salt-marsh grass. (Sounds like a great place to fish!)
The creek narrowed with hardwood swamps on both sides, mixed with tropical vegetation and cypress trees, as tidal saltwater gave way to freshwater.
Although they encountered little wildlife, they did find “beautiful white swamp lilies scattered among the cypress knees.”
For GPS coordinates and more details, visit their web site.
Their second paddle took them east, towards the Intracoastal Waterway, to explore the expansive Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve.
From the boat ramp, they paddled a mile through marsh grass before reaching a large bay. Following a shoreline thick with hardwoods and semi-tropical vegetation, they came to a scattering of small mangrove islands where they encountered bald eagles and dolphin.
Other park visitors were more enthusiastic about the wildlife, pointing to an abundance of water fowl and shore birds, as well as fish species black drum and redfish, sheepshead, spotted sea trout and snook.
River otters are a fairly common sight, and more than 100 species of birds can be spotted here during spring and fall migrations.
Visitors can rent kayaks and canoes from the park concession, and the park has a large fishing pier along the shore of Pellicer Creek.
For more detail, visit Jack and Nanci’s web page.
Camping at Faver-Dykes State Park
In daylight, the campground was really not hard to find, although it’s deep in the woods at the end of the park road.
There are 30 campsites, all with water and electric hookups, an in-ground fire circle with a grill and a picnic table. A dump station is located within the campground.
While most sites are on hard ground, a couple have concrete pads designed for campers with disabilities. The rest rooms and (hot) showers are also ADA accessible.
All of the sites are well-shaded with thick undergrowth providing privacy, I found that most of the sites were quite small, narrow and not very deep. The maximum RV length is 30 feet, but only a handful can even accommodate that length.
On most sites, rolling out the RV awning would be a challenge, requiring precision maneuvers backing into the site on your first day. You definitely want to think ahead.
On the other hand, these sites are ideal for tenters (except in summer, when you are sure to encounter swarms of noseeums and mosquitos.)
In March, a busy travel season for snowbirds heading north along I-95, we found almost half of the campsites were empty, strongly suggesting that this may not be a hard park to book at other times of year.
The park has 30 RV or tent campsites in a shady hardwood hammock with natural vegetation buffers between most of the sites. Each campsite has water, electric, fire ring, grill and picnic table. ADA accessible hot showers and restrooms and dump station available.
The nightly rate is $18 plus $7/night for utilities and a one-time $6.70 booking fee. Florida residents 65 and older, and those with certified disabilities, receive a 50% discount. (You must prove it.) Utility fee does not apply to tent camping. Pets are OK and alcohol is permitted within the confines of your campsite.
Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance online at reserve.floridastateparks.org or by calling 800-326-3521 or TDD 888-433-0287. For day of arrival bookings, call the ranger station directly at 904-794-0997.
Fishing, hiking in Faver-Dykes State Park
Fishing is the main course, either from a boat or the fishing dock in the picnic area along Pellicer Creek.
The creek is brackish and tidal, delivering both saltwater and freshwater species to anglers.
Catches at the fishing dock include redfish, black drum, sheepshead, spotted seatrout and snook. Freshwater species such as largemouth bass and bream can be found farther upstream, accessible only by boat.
There are two nature trails for hiking, each about a half-mile long. The first, which I mentioned earlier, follows the creek. Look for the odd-shaped and scraggly Turkey Oaks that are common along this trail.
The second trail leads out of the campground into hardwood hammocks.
The park also has several miles of boundary and backwoods roads that are restricted, but they are generally open for hiking.
There is a children’s playground near the picnic pavilions along Pellicer Creek.
For more information about Faver-Dykes State Park, visit their web site.
Odds and Ends for visiting Faver-Dykes State Park
So you want to know how the first trip ended up? Remember the driving rain and the flooding?
Well, I did find a place to turn around (which I later determined was where the park road splits to the picnic area and fishing dock.) Still don’t know how I managed it.
If I had gone another 300 yards, I would have found the entrance to the campground.
Anyway, I eventually got back onto I-95, which was still in the throes of the downpour, and moved down to the next exit, where I parked at a 24-hour Wal-Mart.
We spent the night there, waking up the next morning to the pleasant tweeting of birds in the trees around a beautiful pond, its shorline thick with sub-tropical vegetation.
Faver Dykes State Park, 1000 Faver Dykes Road, St. Augustine, FL 32086. Phone: 904-794-0997
Things to do near Faver-Dykes State Park
A note from the editor:
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 12 years ago.