Photograph by Will Dickey--Sunrise at a tributary of Thomas Creek, off the Nassau River, in northern Duval County, Florida. (

Finding Florida: Thomas Creek Preserve

Location: 17198 Ethel Road, Jacksonville, Florida, 32218
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Entrance Fee: None
For more information: or

The Thomas Creek Preserve, located in upper northwestern Jacksonville, is a special place that shows off 1,450 acres of Old Florida landscape, from a slow moving creek and floodplain marsh to woods dense with canopies under expansive skies. Thomas Creek itself marks the border of Duval and Nassau counties in this area and is the largest tributary of the Nassau River. This area is also known for a Revolutionary encounter more than two hundred years ago: the southernmost battle of the American Revolutionary War, and the only one fought in present-day Duval County, took place at Thomas Creek in May 1777 between British Army forces and Georgia cavalry militia.

The preserve, just 30 minutes from downtown by car, offers a quiet getaway with little motorized traffic on the creek. It’s an ideal place for bird watching, picnicking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and boating. Wildlife to encounter includes alligators, woodpeckers and wading birds, and fishing enthusiasts can try for panfish and catfish.

Amenities include a boat ramp (no boats over 17 ft), dock, fishing pier, canoe/kayak launch, a covered picnic area, grills, restrooms, and boat trailer and car parking. Pets are allowed on leash.

Thomas Creek Preserve is managed by the City of Jacksonville, Parks & Recreation Department, Preservation Project.

photos by Kathy Stark