One of the hidden gems of Jacksonville, Florida is its National Park. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is one of the largest urban park systems, named for the Native Americans that had many chiefdoms in Florida and Georgia during Spanish colonization. It is free and there are multiple parcels to explore.
+Theodore Roosevelt Area
One of my favorite things about hiking in north Florida is the fact that there are hills! This view isn’t from an observation platform.
The elevation isn’t anything to break much of a sweat about, but you’ll heart will get pumping. Approximately 2½ miles of hiking trails in this area ranging from hardwood,
to tidal marsh.
Keep a keen eye out for birds, there were many waders in the wetlands including great blue heron,
and a pair of bald eagles flew overhead. Spanish Pond is a great spot to look for birds, historically it was a pivotal location in the battle between French and Spanish. There are two access points for these trails, be sure to have a trail map.
+Fort Caroline National Memorial
France first attempted permanent settlement in North America in 1564 at the St. Johns River in Florida. It was a short lived endeavor as the Spanish sacked the fort in 1565. The site holds a great visitors center and a replica of the fort in the area it was believed to be located.
There is also a little scenic hiking loop to combine with the history lesson.
If you’re looking for solitude, you may not find any other hikers out here. This is a beautiful location for hiking, but truth be told trail maintenance could be better. A boat launch is here for kayakers as well.
+Kingsley Plantation which is the oldest plantation still standing in Florida State and American Beach provided African Americans with beach access during segregation are two other parcels I didn’t have the time to visit, but am hoping to when I return.