Matanzas State Forest was created from the Matanzas Marsh Northeast Florida Blueway Florida Forever Project. The forest protects the last remaining undisturbed salt marsh within the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Currently comprising 4,699 acres, the initial acquisition was completed in 2003 from Rayonier (a timber company). Since then, additional parcels have been acquired, including a 20-acre linkage to Moses Creek Conservation Area.
Using sound ecosystem science, the Florida Forest Service manages for multiple uses of forest resources which include timber management, wildlife management, natural resource-based recreation, and ecological restoration.
Located in St. John’s County, Matanzas State Forest is owned by the State of Florida and managed by the Florida Forest Service in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and St. Johns River Water Management District.
Situated north of Faver-Dykes State Park and south of Moses Creek Conservation area, the western boundary is US Highway 1 and the eastern shoreline runs along the Intracoastal Waterway (Matanzas River)
Matanzas State Forest is part of a 16,000 acre continuous conservation corridor beginning with Moses Creek managed by the St. John’s River Water Management District, and continuing south through the forest into Faver-Dykes State Park managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Pellicer Creek Conservation Area and Flagler County’s Princess Place Preserve.
In addition to many song birds and wading marsh birds, bald eagles also nest and hunt in the forest. Deer, otter, turkey, hogs, and gopher tortoises also inhabit the forest.
About 75% of the forest is upland and made up of pine plantations. The remaining 25% of the forest is wetlands including bay and cypress swamps. Slash and longleaf pines dominate the upland forest. The majority of the pine stands range in age from newly planted (2003) to thirty year old plantations.
There is an archaeological record of possible Native American settlements in the area. Historic features include remains from turpentine camps. More recently, timber companies and hunt clubs shared the land that is now the forest.
Recreational features include roads for horseback riding, hiking, and bicycling; water access for canoeing and fishing; and abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystems for nature study, viewing, and photography. Primitive camping is available off of Eagle’s Nest Road. Contact us to obtain a State Forest Use Permit for primitive camping.
The Florida Forest Service began managing this parcel in 2003. We are currently making improvements to the forest so that visitors can take full advantage of all it has to offer. A day use permit is required for entrance and can be acquired at no charge by contacting Matanzas State Forest.
Matanzas State Forest is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules which apply to all State Forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.