Bulow Creek State Park sits just a few kilometers north or Daytona Beach and serves as an escape from the city for some and a playground away from the beach for others. Visitors pass by the marsh creeks and pine forests iconic to Florida's landscape at the entrance as the interior of the park meld into thick oak forests. Bulow Creek State Park stands eternal as one of the largest remaining strands of Southern Live Oak forest along the east coast of Florida as well as hosting a long plantation history. Visitors can explore the sprawling oak forest and the ruins of old plantation sites along the several trails that run through the state park.
Right by the park's main parking lot is a landmark in Bulow Creek that can't be missed. The Fairchild Oak is the largest Live Oak tree in the southern United States. The tree has stood for centuries as a witness to the history of the area from the settlements and plantations to the destruction of them by Seminole Native Americans and everything before and in between. There are two main trails that lead through the park located by the massive Fairchild Oak - the Wahlin Trail and the Bulow Woods Trail. These are the primary trails through the park alongside the scenic roadway loop that runs through the park and connects the visitor's center to the Intercoastal Waterway.
The Wahlin Trail is the shorter of the two main loops through the park that spans just over a kilometer heading into the southern section of the park. The trail is flat and well maintained as it dips under light oak canopy. For the locals of Daytona, it serves as a good spot to introduce young ones to the world of hiking. This is an excellent spot to start an adventure into the park and a fine warm up. Essentially, it is used to tell the history of the park through informative plaques of how settlers came to this area in the early 1800's to set up plantations. These plantations prospered growing sugar canes, cotton, rice and indigo on their lands before the Seminole Native Americans saw the plantation wiped out during the Second Seminole War. Aside from the history of the area and a fine sample of the scenery, there is not much reason to linger along the Wahlin Trail, but the second and larger trail in the park provides the adventure that hikers in the park desire.
The actual ruins of the old Bulow Plantation lay along the old five kilometer long Bulow Wood Trail. This trail stretches from the Fairchild Oak all the way to the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic Site to the north. The trail has hikers travelling deeper into thick oak forest into the Bulow Hammock with the shaded path winding around the massive tree trunks of the park's tall Live Oaks. Due to its seclusion from the modern world outside, this trail is among the best in Florida for spotting its natural wildlife like white-tailed deer, barred owls and racoons. Unfortunately, diamondback rattlesnakes have also occasionally been reported along the trail so visitors are warmed to not travel far off the cleared walking area. Near the end of the trail, the oak forest suddenly clears out as visitors emerge into what was once plantation land.
The Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic Site can easily turn the couple of hours it takes to hike the Bulow Wood Trail into a half-day adventure. While the site is a state archeological zone and any artifacts found cannot be removed, there are a number of small trails that tour the area and the ruins. The fields makes for an excellent spot for picnics with a backdrop of local history that hails this one of the favourite play areas for Daytona Beach locals.