The 8,000-acre Deep Creek Preserve includes natural and agricultural features. Two acquisitions make up this site, the first, a cattle and silviculture ranch purchased with funds from Volusia Forever and Volusia County Water and Utilities in 2010 as a key component toward the goal of acquiring a connected wildlife greenway through the Volusia Conservation Corridor. In addition to conservation value, the property provides the opportunity to establish water resource facilities on the Preserve in order to minimize impacts to Blue Spring, located adjacent to the St. Johns River. The St. Johns River Water Management Division purchased the second parcel in 2011. Volusia County Land Management division is responsible for the resource management of the Preserve, in its entirety.
A naturally wet site, the plant communities of Deep Creek Preserve include dome swamps, basin swamps, wet and mesic flatwoods. The 4.6-mile yellow trail is open to hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding during daylight hours. While exploring it, you may identify these distinct natural communities by the presence of certain trees and plants:
- Dome swamps are characterized by a dome-like appearance of the cypress tree-line. These are clearly evident in the cattle pasture.
- Basin swamps are low areas that remain wet much of the year. They are characterized by a canopy of hardwood trees such as sweet gum, red maple, dahoon holly and loblolly bay. The midstory consists of shrubs such as fetterbush, wax myrtle and button bush.
Wet and mesic flatwoods differ by their hydrology. Wet flatwoods, as the name implies, are wetter in rainy seasons and remain wet longer. Naturally occurring flatwoods are characterized as a slash pine forest with sparse or absent mid-story and a dense ground cover of grasses and other herbaceous plants. Subtle differences of vegetation within the groundcover may be observed.
A rise in elevation of just a few inches creates the mesic flatwoods habitat, characterized by an open canopy of longleaf or slash pine, a sparse understory of saw palmetto and gallberry and a dense herbaceous ground cover of wiregrass.
3,000 acres of this site was planted slash pine plantation. In addition to the planted plantations, much of natural characteristics that are typical of flatwoods have changed to a dense midstory of shrubs and a sparse understory of grasses. Active forestry continues to be a land management tool on Deep Creek Preserve with the goal of creating more diverse wildlife habitat and more natural conditions. The St. Johns River Water Management District acquisition was greatly impacted by the 1998 wildfires and restoration is underway.
Wildlife on the site may include deer, turkey, black bear, otter, fox, bobcat, coyote, Sherman’s fox squirrel, gopher tortoise, bald eagle, swallow tailed kite, and wading birds.
The entrance to Deep Creek Preserve is on the west side of S. State Road 415, 4.5 miles south of State Road 44 and 6.5 miles north of Howland Boulevard.
We hope you enjoy your visit in natural Florida!
Volusia County conservation lands are managed using a program of professionally accepted principles of resource and ecosystem management for the benefit of, and enjoyment by, present and future generations.
To learn more about natural group tours, conservation activities, educational programs, and volunteer opportunities on this and other Volusia County conservation lands, visit our Conservation Lands Outreach Program webpage or call Parks, Recreation and Culture at 386-736-5953.