Anastasia — a name that evokes visions of beauty and royalty. Indeed, there was a legendary Grand Duchess of Russia by the name of Anastasia whose story became an epic animated film. Whatever the history*, this park was well named, as the beauty and grandeur are spectacular.
It’s easy to see why this is one of Florida’s Top 10 State Parks (#8) — More than 4 miles of unspoiled beachfront, a beautiful coastal forest, the Intracoastal Waterway and coastal marshland combine to attract an abundance of wildlife and humans alike. Even though Anastasia State Park is tucked right up against America’s oldest city, the bustling St. Augustine, it feels worlds away.
The Ancient Dunes Trail is a short loop through the forest, less than a mile, but quite hilly…hence “Ancient Dunes.” Another very short trail leads to the Old Spanish Quarries, where coquina was mined to build the nearby Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S.
The campsites I scoped out were all tucked into the woods, with shelter from the sun and neighbors alike. This would be a perfect base camp for exploring the area, from the attractions of St. Augustine to other beautiful natural lands nearby, like the GTM Research Reserve, Faver-Dykes State Park, Matanzas State Forest or Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, to name a few.
The Ancient Dunes Trail Hike:
* The name Anastasia comes from the huge coquina rock formation that underlies much of Florida’s east coast, known as the Anastasia Formation. How this formation got its name is another story, unknown to me.