Day 1: State Parks
MORNING: Begin the day at Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve. 12 miles North of Downtown Jacksonville this park offers hiking and so much more. With biking, fishing, horseback riding and launch sites for canoes and kayaks, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve is a must visit. There are four designated free parking lots along Pumpkin Hill Road. Visitors can enjoy over 3 miles of trails so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. If you are looking to extend the distance there are more than 12-miles of multi-use trails that connect to other adjacent City of Jacksonville parks including Betz Tiger Point, Cedar Point and the Jim Wingate Preserve. You will explore ecosystems of sandhill and scrubby flatwoods, basin swamps and salt marsh creeks, all in just a few hours. After finishing the trails at Pumpkin Hill, enjoy a breakfast picnic under the tree canopies.
AFTERNOON: Then travel a few miles north on A1A, Fort George Island State Park offers a fantastic quick hike. The park is built on an old golf course, slowly turning back into a maritime forest. The three-mile trail in this park is dog friendly, with good views of Fort George River and the shorebirds that inhabit it. This trail will probably take you around two to three hours, a good warm up for a full day of coastal hiking.
DINNER: Across from the entrance to Fort George Island, on Heckscher you can catch a ride on the St. Johns River Ferry to the historic Mayport Village and enjoy dinner on the water at Safe Harbor. The ferry ride is quick and inexpensive and the perfect way to catch a sunset on the river.