Access to Bulow Creek State Park is free. The main entrance will take you directly to the park's greatest attraction, the Fairchild Oak, one of the largest Southern Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) in the South! It was a seedling around 1600-1620 AD when the Spanish were colonizing La Florida, and when the Timucua Indians lived along the Tomoka River and the marshes and creeks later named Bulow. Known locally as the Ormond Oak for at least a century, the tree was christened Fairchild on December 11, 1955, in honor of Dr. David Fairchild, a world-famous botanist and naturalist who was fond of the tree.
After you visit the Fairchild Oak you can hike or bike one of several trails built and maintained in order to provide visitors a glimpse of unique habitats and wildlife. The longest trail is the Bulow Woods Trail, a 6.8 mile hiking trail that runs from the Fairchild Oak to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park. If the entire 6.8 mile hike seems a little daunting you may choose to park at a second entrance off of Walter Boardman Lane and hike a short distance North or South.
Bulow Creek State Park stretches along Old Dixie Highway nestled between Tomoka State Park and Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park. On the East side of Old Dixie sits the ruins of the Dummett Sugar Mill. This sugar mill was constructed out of coquina stone and brick but like so many other plantations and mills in the area it was burned and partially destroyed during the second Seminole war in 1836.
Containing one of the largest stands of southern live oak remaining on the east coast of Florida, the park's "star" is the Fairchild Oak. Over four centuries old, it is among the largest of its kind in the southern United States. Bulow Creek State Park is home to a plethora of plant and animal wildlife. Wildlife viewing experiences will vary depending on the season and time of day you visit the park. Among the wildlife are white-tailed deer, barred owls and raccoons. Walter Boardman Pond is usually host to various wading birds and waterfowl, some birds you might see are great blue herons, wood storks, egrets, and wood ducks.
An interpretive kiosk is available in the parking area, providing information on the history of the area including the legendary Fairchild Oak, local wildlife, and the unique ecosystems within Bulow Creek. Activities include hiking, canoeing, picnicking, wildlife viewing and primitive camping.
It is said James Ormond II and the future Seminole leader Coacoochee, or Wildcat as he also was called, were boyhood friends who spent endless hours playing under the Fairchild Oak and climbing its highest branches. Later, they would fight against each other in the battle of Dunlawton during the Second Seminole War. James Ormond II is laid to rest in a tomb not far from the Fairchild Oak, and atop what many believe to be a Timucua burial mound.
page information credit: Florida State Parks, Friends of the Tomoka Basin State Parks, City of Ormond Beach, Florida, "Fairchild Oak A Sturdy Witness To Much History" By Dana Ste. Claire
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors