If you’re looking for a quick place to get some fresh air and Florida scenery, you’re short on time, or toting the kids – these hikes are perfect for you. Both are free and located about 10 minutes away from one another – can easily be combined.
+Castaway Island Preserve, 2885 San Pablo Rd S Jacksonville, FL 32224
A mile long roundtrip trail traverses woods and marsh on a paved trail, which is really exciting for kids.
Creative interpretive signs geared towards children play a mystery game guessing whose tracks are in the pavement by giving clues.
It’s fun for adults to guess too, and there are also plenty of things to learn about the environment for everyone as well. A boardwalk crosses into a salt marsh, a place I learned that a wide shallow salty river runs through which connects to the ocean.
Elevation changes create a change in salinity that creates zones for different plants. Here, cord grass prevails, it is very salt-tolerant.
There are restrooms and a nature center, a place to launch your kayak and grills with picnic tables.
+Dutton Island Preserve, 793 Dutton Island Road West, Atlantic Beach, FL
A lollipop loop of 1.4 miles leads through lush woods.
With the informational plaques, I learned some really awesome facts. Did you know that the opossum has the most teeth of all North American land mammals?! And that Native Americans who lived in the area, the Timucuans, were heavily tattooed?! Well, the good people, good deeds warranted tattoos. Woods give way to a marsh scene.
A great place for birding, and a favorite place for kayakers and paddle boarders due to its shallow nature.