Trails closed at Ravine Gardens after hurricane

Walkers, runners and nature enthusiasts are out of luck in the upcoming months, as Ravine Gardens State Park has closed its trails following Hurricane Irma.

While parts of the park are still open, the Ravine Gardens’ paved trail loop and its unpaved Springs and Azalea trails are closed until park and construction officials assess and repair damage sustained in the storm.

Park Manager Terri Newmans said damage from the hurricane could be seen as soon as anyone enters the park’s 1.8-mile paved loop. Just before the staircase leading to the Springs Trail, she said, a large chunk of the paved trail is gone.

“It completely washed out about half of the drive, and the soil underneath is unstable,” Newmans said. “We had probably about 15 to 20 rather large trees down along the drive.”

Fallen trees litter the park, Newmans said, and park workers are still determining the extent of the damage throughout the area.

Newmans said the park’s Court of States, fountain garden, large pavilion and civic center is open to the public during park hours. All events to take place inside the civic center will commence as scheduled, she said.

But there are tape and gates blocking access to trails and other restricted areas.

She said it is too early to determine how long the three trails would be closed, but repairing them will be a “long-term project.”

The Ravine Gardens was created by erosion, and it’s something park workers adjust to when carrying out their functions, Newmans said.

“That’s the nature of the beast with the Ravines,” Newmans said. “That’s how it became what it is today.”

Newmans, who is also manager of Dunns Creek State Park and the Palatka-to-St. Augustine Trail, said Dunns Creek fared better than the Ravines.

Trees fell throughout the park, and maintenance is underway on one of its trails, Newmans said. But cleanup has been quick, and the park, for the most part, has resumed its normal functions, despite crews continuing to clear trails.

“It was very minimal damage,” Newmans said. “We had about 15 … trees along the main drive. Crews have already cleaned up Dunns Creek, and it’s open to the public.”

Crews will today begin surveying the Palatka-to-St. Augustine Trail, Newmans said. She said she received reports of multiple trees blocking the massive paved trail, so it will be a while before the trail will be open to bicyclists, runners and walkers.

“We should be up and running within the next week or so,” Newmans said.