Biking, Hiking & Running
Jacksonville's Green Spaces Provide Endless Opportunities for Outdoor Athletics
Jacksonville offers an expanse of natural playgrounds to explore. Among the various outdoor activities, hiking, running and biking give way to some of the most picturesque settings of natural habitats. Jacksonville’s urban parks system, the largest in the country with 111,600 preserved acres, offers marked trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.
Minutes outside Downtown Jacksonville, the Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail offers an escape from daily routines on a unique trail along a former railroad corridor. The tree canopy transports you to a restful state of mind and provides protection from the Florida sun. Hikers and bikers will be at ease on this 14-mile, paved trail, passing through pine flatwoods, wetlands and hardwood uplands. There are also opportunities to spot wildlife such as songbirds, hawks, wild turkey, and white-tailed deer.
The locals call it the “Toughest 10K” in Jacksonville. The Roosevelt Area trail head (off of Mt Pleasant Rd.) winds through the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve on three marked trails. The trails have the steep hills, rough trails and beautiful natural surroundings. There are also historic markers and exhibits along the trail, including Fort Caroline National Memorial, a replica that recalls the lives and deaths of 16th-century French colonists.
Surprising, but true for a Florida destination, Jacksonville offers incredible mountain biking trails at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. The trails’ names say it all - "Grunt," "Misery" and "Tornado Alley" offer a wild adventure through the trees of this oceanfront park. These trails are for more advanced riders, but novice riders will enjoy two other off-road trails. There are more than 15 miles of wooded paths to explore by bike or on foot. The hard-packed white sand along the ocean, also offers a great spot to run. Dogs are allowed on the beach at Hanna Park, so you’ll want to bring your furry friend along.
Novice riders or those looking to wind down after a wild ride on “Tornado Alley” will enjoy a guided eco-tour via bicycle with Kayak Amelia at Long Island Outfitters. Explore the upland hammocks of Talbot Islands State Parks. Bikers peddle the gently rolling trails on comfy Trek 300 bikes. Huge old oak trees shade the path. Various song birds, gopher tortoises and armadillos are the local residents.
Running enthusiasts will want to visit Jacksonville during one of its signature running events. 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer is held annually in February in Jacksonville Beach. This is the only marathon in the country dedicated solely to raising money to fight breast cancer. The Gate River Run held in March is an extraordinary 15k run through Downtown Jacksonville and its bridges. The race is said to be the largest 15K held in the country with more than 20,000 runners participating each year.