Sunnyhill Restoration Area

About this property

This restoration area was purchased to restore wetland functions on more than 2,800 acres of the historic Ocklawaha River floodplain. In 2008, the St. Johns River Water Management District completed several water control structures and levee projects to allow better long-term management of water levels on the property, which also improves water quality, provides limited flood storage and improves wildlife habitat.

An old farmhouse, known as the Blue House, was constructed in the 1930s and is still found on the property. In 2016, the district opened the South Tract, providing an additional 3,400 acres to the public, with 7 miles of new hiking and biking trails and additional parking. Originally purchased as a conservation easement in 2004, the South Tract was transferred to district ownership through a life estate clause.

The property features picnic and primitive camping sites, boat launches and an observation platform. Visitors may also enjoy about 20 miles of trails that traverse multiuse trails throughout the two tracts that make up this property.

One of the special highlights of this property is the marked trail system taking you along levees through the former farms within the Ocklawaha River floodplain where you will see sandhill crane and American alligators. Also take a walk through cool shaded oak hammocks near and along the historic channel of the Ocklawaha River. Climb the observation tower for expansive views across the marsh with ample opportunities to view many species of wading birds and waterfowl.  

Wildlife viewing

Please respect Florida’s wildlife and use caution while visiting district lands. These are wild animals. For your safety, do not approach or feed any wild animal. Many species of wading birds feed in the marshes, including glossy and white ibis, little blue and tri-colored herons, and great and snowy egrets. Thousands of sandhill cranes spend the winter in the Ocklawaha River Basin. Red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, osprey and three owl species live here year-round. Other animal species, including black bear, river otter and bobcat, are returning to the area as restoration proceeds.

Recreational activities
  1. Hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, bicycling, picnicking and primitive camping.
  2. Bank fishing is available at the canal at the western edge of the property.

East of Weirsdale. Boat ramps are at Moss Bluff and County Road 42. For details and to get driving directions from your location, see the Google Maps links on this page.