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St. Johns River and Ortega River Inlet

The St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida; it is 310 miles long and runs through or borders twelve counties. It starts in Indian River County and meets the Atlantic Ocean at Duval County. 3.5 million People live within the various watersheds that feed into the St. Johns River, as it is Florida's primary commercial and recreational waterway. It is a very slow running river and is one of the few rivers in the United States that runs north. The widest point of the river is 3 miles across, spanning several miles between Palatka and Jacksonville, with Jacksonville being the largest urban area on the river. Many lakes are formed by the St. Johns River or flow into it, with the barrier islands and land between the St. Johns and the Atlantic Ocean affecting its slow discharge; the river ebbs and flows with tides. The Ortega Inlet serves boaters and ships in and out of the St. Johns River and Jacksonville area.

Mayport Ferry

Mayport Ferry Jean Ribault

There is a Ferry that runs in this area between Mayport and Fort George Island, the voyage is 0.9 miles and crosses the St. Johns River about 2.5 miles inland from the mouth of the river. The ferry is called the St. Johns River Ferry or the Mayport Ferry and has two ferries. The main ferry is the Jean Ribault, which carries 206 passengers and hauls 40 vehicles and the stand-by, Blackbeard, which carries 207 passengers and hauls 42 vehicles. The ferry has operated since 1948 and is the last active ferry in Florida.

One of the stops the ferry makes is at the Naval Station Mayport, which is home to a military airfield. Mayport was commissioned in 1942 and since then it has become the third largest naval fleet concentration area in the United States accommodating 34 ships and has an 8,000-foot runway long enough to land most any aircraft in the Department of Defense inventory. The Naval Station Mayport has been home to several aircraft carriers over the years including the USS Franklin D Roosevelt, USS Forrestal, the USS Saratoga and the USS John F. Kennedy.

Huguenot Memorial Park & Beach

Huguenot Beach

Huguenot Memorial Park is a local oceanfront park known for its natural wonders like great birding opportunities and amazing views of some of North Florida's remaining natural areas. One of the most popular areas in the park is called the "Point"; approximately 4,500 feet of shoreline where you can drive on the beach, park almost in the surf and hang out. On any given weekend, you will find a multitude of people doing just that, along with their dogs. Sometimes, however this stretch of beach is closed due to birds nesting in the area, when this happens the area is still open to those on foot just not vehicles.

Huguenot Memorial Park has waterfront campsites, a great bird observation area, and beautiful views of some of North Florida's best natural areas. You can also swim in designated areas with lifeguards on duty, fishing is also allowed in certain areas, you can surf here as well. They have a boat launch area where jet skis can also be launched, picnic shelters, restrooms, and shower facilities, so if you're camping or just ending your day at the beach you can clean up before going on with your day.

Drive on Huguenot Beach

Because of the great habitat and the many kinds of birds, Huguenot Memorial Park has been designated a Great Florida Birding Trail site by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The park has a critical nesting area for terns and shorebirds, and sometimes rare birds like bar-tailed godwits nest there too. Birders may also find gannets, loons, and sea ducks when on the trails; using binoculars, spotting scopes, and cameras are highly recommended. The parks offers both paved and unpaved multi-user trails, with many of them considered "back country trails", so be sure to carry water and bug spray while dressing accordingly to the time of year you choose to visit.

The waterways in this area are beautiful and Huguenot Memorial Park is a great place to spend a day with your family. The Mayport ferry is a once in a lifetime experience and a great way to see the area. So come cast a line, bring your boat, Jet Ski or binoculars. You'll have fun not matter what you like to do.

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