Guana River State Park or the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and it’s an amazingly beautiful place you must visit if you enjoy hiking, fishing, bird-watching, biking, horseback riding, or just enjoy peaceful walks in nature! Oh, and I almost forgot, dogs are welcome! Below you will see the Trail Map, it is a pretty expansive reserve! Below I am going to share with you why I like Guana along with photos I have taken while visiting there.
As you can see from the Trail Map above, the GTM Reserve offers over 10 miles of trails to explore! I have walked all of them except the red portion (will do that soon!) The Tolomato River (intracoastal waterway) and the Guana River/lake border the trails. While walking the trails you will see a broad variety of habitats, including open freshwater savannas, scrub, live oak hammocks, salt marshes, and scrubby flatwoods. My favorite trail is the yellow trail heading out to the Tolomato River. It is so beautiful … every time I go I see many birds and butterflies. Other wildlife my family has seen at Guana includes a baby alligator, deer, a raccoon, armadillos, a wild hog, snakes, and my personal favorite: a Gopher Tortoise (more about him later).
Here is a musical Slide Show of some of the scenery at Guana … enjoy!
Why I love Guana … so many reasons!
*It is a national estuarine, protected and used for research and education. It is natural Florida at its best!
*This natural setting provides a habitat for many species of birds and other wildlife. I love being able to observe birds in their natural habitat. You can see some of my bird photos (and one bee) from Guana below.
*It is a very peaceful place to enjoy a walk. Most of the time when we’ve walked the trails, we come across very few people, if any at all. During the day on weekdays is the best time to visit.
*There is a nice little place to fish along the Tolomato River if you don’t mind walking down one of the trails to reach this picturesque spot. Here are just a few photos of my guys with fish they have caught at Guana.
To get to Guana coming from St. Augustine, travel about 7.5 miles on A1A north of the Vilano Bridge and you will take a left onto Guana River Road. There is a $3 parking fee. Once you pay, you’ll enter the Guana Dam parking lot. To get to the trails keep driving straight onto the dirt road to get to the trail parking area. Once parked you will see the Trail Map and to the right are restrooms.
You will notice by the restrooms there is a taped off area, site of a Gopher Tortoise burrow. Many times I have visited and he always seems to be hidden away in his burrow. But on my most recent visit in March, he came out! What a ham! I thought for sure as I got a little closer to take photos, he would scurry back into his hole, but he didn’t. I was very pleased to see him up close and take a few photos. Gopher Tortoises and their burrows are protected by Florida Law.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about Guana River State Park and will make a visit sometime to enjoy all that it has to offer! For more information about the Guana, click on the GTMNERR link below. You will notice they also have an educational facility and special events. Be sure to give this post a like and follow my blog for more fun places to visit in St. Augustine and Florida! Until next time, keep on exploring! ~Kristina~