Many scenic vista views of the St. Johns River can be observed from this site. The William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway functions as a linear “greenway” connecting this site with the southern strategic habitat area in Duval County.
The topography on the site varies significantly from the geologically unique bluff overlooking the St. Johns River to the lower elevations where the creek and wetlands bisect the site. The native vegetative communities located on the higher elevations consist of mixed hardwoods, temperate hardwoods and coniferous plantation. The native vegetative communities located on the lower elevations, in the proximity of the St. Johns River tributary, consist of mixed wetlands and hardwood forest. The mixed wetland hardwood community, located at the mouth of the tributary flowing into the St. Johns River, provides habitat for the American alligator, snowy egret and tri-color heron. According to the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD)’s Priority Habitat for Wetland Species map this area is suitable habitat for 1-6 wetland dependent species. Other wildlife that can be found on this site include: osprey, owl, wild turkeys, many species of butterflies (Zebra Longwing, Red Admiral, Gulf Fritillary, Buckeye, Southern Haistreak, Monarch, Cloudless Sulphur, Zebra Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail and Long-tailed Skipper) fox, deer, gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake, Florida pine snake and the endangered manatee.
The three historic structures located on this site were built during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These are the last remaining physical structures in this area, which provide a unique opportunity for the county to educate citizens, as well as travelers, about the rich local citrus history and economic development during the 1900´s in northwest St. Johns County (Fruit Cove, Orangedale and Switzerland). The main structure is a two-story farmhouse built circa 1900. The shed/garage, located northeast of the house, still contains much of the grove’s machinery for processing fruit grown on the site. The most interesting of the three buildings is the two-story board and batten framed structure that was used by the former owner to store his curios collected from around the country. These curios were put on display for the local school children and tourists to see. There are still remnants of orange/lemon groves on this site. Unfortunately, due to the hard freeze in 1983 many of the North Florida existing groves were destroyed and what wasn´t destroyed then was destroyed the following year. Although this site has seen better days as a thriving orange/lemon grove, the site still contains many secrets of the past. Due to the rapid growth in northwest St. Johns County and the subsequent large influx of new residents since the mid-1980´s, much of the area´s history has been destroyed. New residents need to be made aware of the rich history of this area.
The Alpine Grove River Park property will be managed for conservation, preservation and enhancement of the natural, historical and archaeological resources, and outdoor recreation. The types of recreational opportunities on the site including hiking trails, river boardwalk, picnicking, fishing, visitors center, playgrounds and nature and historical/archaeological interpretation. The historic structures will be restored and at least one of the structures will be restored as a historic /cultural museum which will be used to educated citizens about the rich history of the Switzerland, Fruit Cove and Orangedale northwest region of St. Johns County.
Download a PDF of the Alpine Groves Master Plan.