Originally published May 2011:
After a grueling 40 mile march from St. Augustine through dense vegetation and in heavy rain, 500 Spanish troops found a freshwater pond a short distance from the French outpost, Ft. Caroline. They would camp here before they attacked the fort the next day. Nearly 450 years later, Spanish Pond is a nondescript location across the street from Ft. Caroline National Monument. Just a few hundred yards from the fort, it was evident that the Spanish troops were able to get close to the fort without detection. Spanish Pond is accessible from Ft. Caroline Rd, and is just a few feet from the parking lot. The Spanish Pond trail continues to the east, and connects to the Theodore Roosevelt Hiking Area. I would recommend hiking the length of the Spanish Pond trail (about a mile) until you reach the bluff where Willie Brown’s cabin was located. After a short walk to the marsh, take the Timucuan Trail west until it connects back to the Spanish Pond trail. It’s a good workout since it climbs what is probably the one of the highest (and steepest) hills in Jacksonville. Following the edge of the water, it also offers some great views of the river and marsh.