Big Talbot Island in Jacksonville, Florida

Northern Florida doesn’t get flocks of tourists like the rest of the state, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptional gems worth seeking out. Big Talbot Island is one of the most unique parks in all of Florida, you can’t miss it on your trip to Jacksonville. For some light hiking there are multiple pull offs for different trailheads, not very well marked. You want to find the access point for the Black Rock Trail to Boneyard Beach, one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. Coastal erosion took the life out of live oak and cedar trees near the shore, leaving a dramatic scene.

Also dubbed ‘elephant graveyard,’ plan your trip at low tide to catch these enormous skeletons in their entirety.

There are so many of these trees, it’s a jungle gym to walk down the beach. But you should. As far as your legs can take you.

Enjoy natures weathered art. Blanched.

Salt washed.

Tangled mass of roots. Strong enough to climb on.

As you keep walking down the coast, the sand and soil mixture becomes unique. Trade sand for thick mud, which turns into black rock formations which gives the trail its name.

As if the scenery wasn’t enough, the birding here is top notch as well. On the walk there was a pileated woodpecker,

bald eagle,

and shoveler.

Another hike, one above the beach is the Big Pine Trail.

You can walk part of the 2.9-mile paved Timucuan Trail that runs beside A1A to get to the trailhead, or drive back down and park there.

A short trek through the maritime hammock along the Simpson Creek, for a bit of a different view.

The Bluffs Picnic Area is a great spot for lunch with a view, and gives insight to what the trees on the shore once looked like.

Parking is $3 for theses trailheads on the honors system, bring cash to put in the envelope. Adjacent to BTI is Little Talbot Island, if you’re looking to make a day in North Jacksonville. The beach is pristine here, with almost white sands.

Much lovelier than in Jacksonville proper and a fraction of the crowd. The park has additional miles of hiking trails and an additional fee. $5 for a vehicle, $2 for bikers and pedestrians.

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