Experience unique hiking trails while you park hop discovering trails filled with “Old Florida” flair.
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.
DAY 2: The Talbot Islands
MORNING: Pick up where you left off yesterday, and continue North on A1A to Little Talbot Island State Park, which has a four-mile hiking trail full of hills, caused by huge packed in sand dunes and rooted by oaks and pine trees. A two-mile section of the trail takes you on the beach. There are no concession stands in this park, so be sure to pack a lunch and enjoy your meal at one of the many pavilion areas along the beach.
AFTERNOON: Head further North to Big Talbot Island. The highlights: Boneyard Beach and Black Rock Beach, another gem on this park, are accessible with a short half mile walk from a pull-off spot on A1A. Bleached live oaks cover the “rocky” shoreline (the rocks are compressed sand and decayed leaves from the bluffs above the shore). A lot of people take pictures among the skeletons of the trees, a sight that only exists where the environment and erosion is just right. Cool off from your hiking day by dipping your toes into the cool waters of the Nassau Sound.
DAY 3: City Hike
MORNING: In the Arlington neighborhood, near Jacksonville’s I-295 roadway, is a gem of a park just 10 minutes or so from Downtown. The Jacksonville Arboretum has more than 126 acres with 7 designated trails to explore. Whether you want to take a quick hike or whole morning, you’ll enjoy the time you spend exploring. Bring your family and friends along for the outing. Even better, you can bring those furry friends along for the adventure.
AFTERNOON: Head towards the beach for lunch and afterwards explore the trails of Hanna Park. This oceanfront park has 15 miles of paths. The hard-packed white sand along the ocean also offers a great spot to walk or run. Dogs are allowed on the beach at Hanna Park, so you’ll want to bring your furry friend along.