Area Status: Open
Take a trek back in time to Pat's Island on the Yearling Trail, a walk through the Big Scrub to an island of pine that the Long family once called home. This interpretive trail system leads you past a variety of historic structures, including an old cattle dip vat, a cistern, the remains of several homestead sites, and the Long family cemetery. In the center of it all is a giant sinkhole where the pre-1900 settlers collected drinking water.
At a Glance
||Expect full sun on the first/last mile of trail.
Dawn to dusk
||Salt Springs, Astor
||Map of the Yearling Trail (PDF)
Slideshow of MGM movie set at Pat's Island (Florida State Archives)
From the intersection of SR 40 and SR 19 to the east of Juniper Springs, drive north on SR 19 for 6.2 miles. The trailhead is well marked by a large sign on the left, across from the entrance to Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area.
There are two loops to the Yearling Trail: an outer loop of 5.5 miles, which connects to and utilizes a portion of the Florida Trail, and an inner loop of 3.5 miles. Both are accessed via a linear connector trail from the main parking area on US 19 through the Big Scrub. A secondary parking area, Pat's Island Trailhead, may also be used to access the Yearling Trail via the Florida Trail southbound from the trailhead.
The natural beauty of the area and the colorful life style of these rugged people fascinated the author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. She stayed with the last two inhabitants of the island, Calvin and Mary Long in October 1933. During this and other visits she recorded many stories told by the Longs. Calvin's childhood story of nursing a deer from a fawn gave her the idea for the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Yearling". The book was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman, Jr. and was filmed on location in the early 1940's.
For the filming of "The Yearling" by MGM between 1939 and 1940, sets were constructed on Pat's Island, with crew and actors brought in for exterior scenes. The Florida State Archives has an excellent slide show of pre-production and location shots.