Cracker Creek is an environmental and historical treasure of Port Orange. Located at 1795 Taylor Road, on the western side of scenic Spruce Creek, this 20 acre sanctuary is a natural home for a variety of endangered plants and animals that can be seen by boat or by foot. Cracker Creek is a pure nature preserve and is perfect for many recreational activities such as boating, bird watching, canoeing, and hiking.

The lifeline of Cracker Creek preserve is a unique natural black water system known as Spruce Creek. It is a rare waterway because it remains as one of a few unspoiled streams in Florida. Touring the channels of Cracker Creek by boat is an enriching experience for everyone. While slowly drifting down these streams, many different habitats can be seen including dense forests, saltwater swamps, freshwater bogs, and cypress marshes. Within these wetlands and winding cypress trees, alligators, raccoons, various types of lizards, Florida Sandhill Cranes, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons, and Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers can easily be found.

Like explorers of old, visitors can easily experience this pristine land and river ways on their own or as a group. Cracker Creek’s launch site is the only public access to Spruce Creek west of Highway US1. For a $5.00 fee, visitors can easily launch their own canoes and kayaks or can rent them at an hourly rate (ranging from $20-$50). Rentals include life vests, safety gear and paddles. Pontoon guided tours can be arranged for small groups as well as short pirate boat rides. Picnic areas, restroom facilities and concessions are convenient to the handicap-accessible boat launch.

Though Cracker Creek is now privately owned by the Williams family, its origins lie in Florida’s ranching heritage. The name Cracker Creek comes from the cowboys and cattle ranches that once inhabited the area. The cowboys’ would use long cowhide whips while herding their cows and made loud cracking noises, thus they became known as crackers. It was James N. Gamble, of the Procter and Gamble fame, however, who made Cracker Creek well known. A frequent winter visitor, Gamble discovered this uninhibited land by paddling down Spruce Creek during the 1890s. An ardent outdoorsman, Gamble realized this pristine area had much to offer. He built his hunting and fishing retreat and the adjacent orange packing barn. When Gamble died on July 2, 1932, the Gamble Place was willed to his two daughters, Olivia and Maud. Maud married Judge Alfred K. Nipper, who designed and built a house modeled after the cottage in the movie Snow White in 1938. Dubbed Snow White’s cottage, this quaint little abode is still explored and children of all ages can enjoy a story time with Snow White. Gamble’s cracker house as well as the original homestead of his caretaker, of Roland “Rollie” F. Johnson, is still explored by history lovers today.


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