Hosted by AmericanTrails.org
Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.
The 4 miles of trails in the Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area at the southern end of the Chipola River Greenway are maintained by the Florida Trail Association, Chipola Greenway Volunteers, and local Boy Scouts. Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2013.
The Chipola River Greenway trails are nationally significant because: the Chipola River Greenway is located in a small friendly historic town; the trail is connected by water to multiple other parks; the trails were created and are maintained by volunteers and donations; the diverse grade and elevation changes provide fitness opportunities; many rare plant and animal species are living and thriving along the trails; geological formations and caves are accessible and surround the trails; and the trails provide the user a feeling of stepping away from society and feeling a part of the natural environment.
The abandoned rails through the woods
First, the Chipola River Greenway is located in the City of Marianna, nicknamed “the City of Southern Charm,” known for its beautiful Victorian and Antebellum homes, pristine river, magnificent caves and rich history. Marianna provides citizens and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the rich past and the promising future in a location where average temperatures range from 56° to 81°.
The City of Marianna, located in Jackson County, the third oldest county in Florida, has a rich history that dates back to the Spanish mission of San Nicolas de Tolentino, established at the mouth of a large cave in 1674. Only a year later the mission was destroyed in an uprising of the Chacato (also known as Chatot) Indians, which resulted in Spanish retaliating by burning the homes and fields of the Indians. Many believe that during the First Seminole War, Indian warriors hid in the caves of what is known today as the Florida Cavern’s State Park when Andrew Jackson marched his army through town.
After Florida became a state in 1821, Robert Beveridge, a Scottish land speculator, and his wife Anna Maria, arrived from Baltimore and laid out the City on a hilltop overlooking the Chipola River. He derived the name of the town by combining his wife’s middle name with the first name of his business partner, Anna. It was in 1827 that the town was officially founded.
Flame Azalea in bloom along the trail
One of the reasons for Marianna’s success and support was its location along the Chipola River, which was used to barge bales of cotton downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. By the time of the Civil War, Marianna was the home to Confederate Governor John Milton and a military headquarters for southern troops assigned to defend Northwest Florida. On September 27, 1863 the City was attacked by Union forces. This has become known as the Battle of Marianna. Fighting took place throughout downtown Marianna and many Confederate troops were killed when St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and two nearby homes were burned over their heads. The fight has been referred to as “Florida’s Alamo.” A young Union Officer (20 years old) of the 2nd Maine Cavalry, Nathan Cutler, ran into the burning church and saved the Bible from its lectern. It’s on display today for visitors to see and in the Church’s cemetery the final resting place of Governor Milton can be visited.
During the early 20th century, Marianna became known for its Satsuma (type of small orange citrus fruit that thrives in the area) Festival, where people came from miles around to enjoy a parade, circus acts, beauty pageants, and related activities. In fact, by 1920 Jackson County had named itself the “Satsuma Capital of the world.” Today, twenty-seven historical sites are available for tourists to visit through a downtown historical district walking tour. Pamphlets are available at Marianna City Hall and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. While visiting the historical sites, visitors can also enjoy downtown shopping and dining.
Second, the Chipola River Greenway is connected by water to City owned and maintained Yancey Boat Landing, and several State owned parks. Yancey Boat Landing is accessible by automobile on North Jefferson Street (Cavern’s Road) less than a half of a mile from the Noland Street Trail Head. Just north of the Chipola River on the east side of Cavern’s Road is the Florida Cavern’s State Park, known for its beautiful caves, trails, camping areas and river sink. On the west side of Cavern’s Road just across the Chipola River is Citizen’s Lodge Park, which offers year round festivals, a playground, and plenty of paved walking areas in an open field. The Chipola River is fed by a natural spring located at Jackson Blue Springs, a Jackson County managed and State owned park. The spring feeds directly into Merritt’s Millpond before encountering a dam located on US90. Spring Creek Park can be visited at the dam, which has become an ideal place for canoers/kayakers to begin their journey down Spring Creek, which empties into the Chipola River.
Third, in 2012 the City of Marianna hired the Florida Trail Association to construct trails within the Chipola River Greenway using volunteers. Local volunteers and volunteers traveling from all over the country stayed within the park and spent countless hours trail blazing. The Chipola Greenway Volunteers and other area experts assisted by ensuring special plant and animal habitats were preserved during the trail creation. Local Boy Scout groups assisted with trail building activities. The trails are currently maintained by the Florida Trail Association, Chipola Greenway Volunteers and local Boy Scouts. The majority of improvements at the property were funded by local businesses and residents. The City and local residents donated countless hours building benches, kiosks, picnic-tables, fencing and maintaining the parks. The trails and Chipola River Greenway are truly a product of a community effort to preserve the natural environment for others to enjoy for many years to come.
Fourth, fitness opportunities are available for most every level at the Chipola River Greenway. Many people enjoying walking and bicycling along the road within Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area with their friends and leashed pets. While the two mile round-trip walk/ride has some hills, the grade is not overly challenging. The southern (1.5 miles) and western (1.0) loops of the trail at Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area provide a similar fitness experience, while providing a more scenic view within the forest. However, the east (0.9 miles) and north (1.4 miles) loops of the portion of the trail located at Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area have a varying grade which challenges walkers/bikers to travel along bluffs and up and down steep hills.
Finally, the Chipola River Greenway is the home to many rare plants, birds, butterfly and animal species. Whenever the trails were created special care was taken to ensure the conservation of the special habitats. Currently, both locations of the trail on the Chipola River Greenway are in the process of being nominated to be a part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. In addition, wetlands, geological formations, caves and sink holes are present and visible from the trails. Each quarter mile section of the trails is unique and seems to take the user to a different natural setting, stepping away from society into a natural wonderland.
The Chipola River Greenway is owned by the State of Florida and Managed by the City of Marianna. The trails are maintained by the Florida Trail Association, the Chipola Greenway Volunteers and the local boy scouts. Rules signs with emergency and maintenance notification are posted at both locations.
For more information: