Best Hikes in Jacksonville, Florida

Best Hikes in Jacksonville, Florida

Oct. 13, 2021

hiking in jacksonville

Jacksonville is brimming with magnificent trails that make hiking a go-to recreational activity. With an abundance of lovely scenery filling the city, from beaches, parks, and marshes, it’s easy to plan exciting hikes with your friends or family.

Hikes in Jacksonville lead to gorgeous views and wildlife encounters. If you’re a long-time hiker or someone who admires nature, you’ll find Jacksonville’s lush landscape to be relaxing and captivating. It's a great area for all kinds of options!

Below is a list of beautiful hiking spots around Jacksonville, Florida to delight all kinds of hikers!

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

Filled with several trails, Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens offers different paths for both beginners and seasoned hikers. An easy hike is available through the Lake Loop where you can enjoy the views of the man-made lake and spot diverse foliage.

If you’re looking for a slightly more challenging route, consider taking the Upper Ravine Trail where you can find spectacular vistas particularly during the winter season. Look for the majestic Longleaf Pine that has become rare, considering the painstaking effort it takes to grow them.

Another trail categorized for moderate hiking is the Live Oak Trail. The highlight here is the existence of the largest live oak found in the Arboretum. It’s dated to be 125 years old. Other interesting things to spot here are the Pine Flatwoods and native honeysuckle azaleas.

If you’re looking for a more stimulating hike, then consider taking the challenging Aralia Trail. You’ll be delighted to find small forested wetlands where tiny swamps and pools reveal themselves. There’s a variety of wildlife and foliage found on this trail.

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Another challenging trail to take is the Sandridge Trail where you’ll be exposed to multiple habitats. This includes an oak scrub, a Rosemary scrub, and a wetland marsh, among others. This trail also links to the Live Oak Trail through a boardwalk. You’ll find a mixed hardwood forest, lichens, and seasonal ponds along your hike.

Hanna Park

It’s easy to love Hanna Park with its welcoming atmosphere towards dogs. You can bring your pets along as you enjoy traipsing around this beachfront urban park. With 15 miles of available hiking, you’ll enjoy the wooded paths and prime water views. You can rest and decide to picnic in a designated area or go kayaking after the hike. There are also paddle boats and canoes to extend your adventure into the water.

Castaway Island Preserve

Situated near the Intracoastal Waterway, Castaway Island Preserve is a refreshing hiking area. You’ll find marshland wildlife and be mesmerized by the 300 acres of coastal environment. Walk leisurely on the wooden boardwalk and enjoy the views while standing in an observation area.

There’s also a nature trail where you can take your kids. They provide an engaging program to let you appreciate the Preserve better. You’ll find impressive views while walking around Castaway Island Preserve. For fur parents, dogs are allowed, so you can let your beloved pets tag along.

University of North Florida Eco Trails

The University of North Florida Eco Trails preserves more than 500 acres of natural terrain. You can find five diverse trails of varying distances. Three of these are categorized as main trails, while the other two are labeled as loop connectors.

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These hiking trails are open daily and offer picnic spots as well. Don’t miss a view of Lake Oneida. You’ll also discover the Sawmill Slough Preserve. Explore different terrains from sandy ones to wetlands. Take time to appreciate the wildlife sightings. Their Red Maple Boardwalk is also available for people with handicaps.

Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park

Labeled as Jacksonville’s biggest city park, Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park’s area extends beyond 500 acres. With numerous trails and a nature education center, plenty of outdoor enthusiasts explore this park.

Hikers should head to the Island Hiking Trail which has a distance of 2 miles. You’ll enjoy the forest environment near the Ortega River. Although this trail can be challenging as there are unmarked spots, it can still lead to delightful forest views. You can also find a dog park here

Talbot Islands State Park

This natural preserve is perfect for studying wildlife, plants, and engaging in birdwatching. You’ll find several fantastic hiking trails in Talbot Islands State Park. It’s rich in flora and fauna. Some plants you can identify are holly, magnolias, and live oak. For wildlife, you’ll encounter sea turtles, raccoons, woodpeckers, deers, and marsh rabbits, to name a few.

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Due to its unique landscape, you’ll get to observe far from ordinary sights here such as formations that appear as rocks but are created from sand. This can be seen on the Blackrock Trail. When waters reach these formations, they can become a natural habitat for tiny sea creatures. When you reach the end of the Blackrock Trail, you’ll discover Boneyard Beach. It’s named this since oak skeletons litter the shoreline.

Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve

This is a unique spot that sits between the junction of two creeks, namely Julington and Durbin. Its trails can lead hikers through marshes, swamps, and sandhills. The trail routes are categorized at moderate levels and can add up to 6.1 miles on a loop. Given the lake views, hiking through the Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve can mean a soothing stroll.

Hiking is can be simple enough, but the sandy terrain can also irritate your feet, so make sure to use appropriate shoes that provide ample cover. Photographers can also capture the exquisite views while going on this pleasant hike.

Bottom Line

Jacksonville, Florida is sure to leave you breathless with its stunning and diverse landscapes. Choose among these distinct and individual hiking trails depending on the mood you’re in. From beach walks to park strolls, you’ll find them all fascinating and an unforgettable experience.

Savor the gorgeous scenery from your hikes. Jacksonville is a city that’s bound to entrance you, whether you prefer the city or natural habitats. A hike can naturally lift up your spirits! There's always an exciting experience waiting for you in Jacksonville.

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