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The Path Less Traveled

The Path Less Traveled

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With bountiful sunshine and year-round warm weather, Florida is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. But our home has more to offer than sandy beaches and blue waters. Check out these hiking, biking and sports trails, and tap into your inner tropical explorer.

by Amy Lynne Hayes May 2015 Also on Digital Edition

Lake Trail

Best for: Bicycling

Location: Begins at Royal Palm Way to the south and stretches along the Lake Worth Lagoon to the north end of the island, Town of Palm Beach

Following the oldest road in the Town of Palm Beach, the Lake Trail is ideal for exploring on two wheels. The 6-mile route was originally used as a walking path for guests of the hotel built by Gilded Age developer Henry Morrison Flagler. The trail boasts waterfront views of Lake Worth to one side, and glimpses into the backyards of mansions to the other. Riders pass some of Palm Beach’s most notable landmarks, including the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and The Breakers Resort. Markers point out other historical points of interest. It’s a paved path, and mostly traffic-free, making it popular for families. The few sections on the street are in quiet residential areas. Bike rentals are available from the Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop


Seabranch Preserve State Park

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, wildlife watching, picnicking, geo-seeking

Location: 6093 SE Dixie Highway, Stuart

Seabranch Preserve State Park, created in 1992, is one of the newer parks in the area. The 1,000-acre landscape, however, is much older. “The habitat here has really been preserved well over the years,” says park manager Andy Flanner. “It’s a really good way to look at how the environment was before development.” The preserve is one of a few undisturbed ecosystems south of Cape Canaveral. The Gomez Trail is an easy 4-mile track. For more experienced hikers, the 5-mile Stokes Trail winds through four distinct Florida habitats: sand pine scrub, baygall, tidal swamp and estuarine seagrass beds; floridastateparks.org/park/Seabranch; 772.219.1880

Call: 772.219.1880

Dupuis Reserve State Forest

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, equestrian trails, camping, fishing, picnicking, hunting

Location: 23500 SW Kanner Highway, Gate 5, Canal Point

Though used as hunting grounds during the spring and fall, DuPuis Reserve State Forest offers plenty for all sportsmen. The park consists of 21,875 acres of pine flatwoods, cypress domes and wetlands. Camping is a large draw, with several primitive campsites on property. Overnight facilities, including a barn and paddocks, are available for those with horses. “Camping is definitely high on the agenda out here,” says park administrator Kim Willis. Fishing is available on a partially covered pier. There are 22 miles of trails for hikers to explore, divided into four loops ranging from 4.3 to nearly 16 miles. The 40 miles of equestrian trails range from 7.2 to 17.5 miles; 561.924.5310


Beach Road

Best for: Bicycling

Location: Spans across Jupiter Island

Beach Road is a two-lane street that runs north to south on Jupiter Island. It covers a 10-mile stretch starting from the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area and ending just over a mile north of the Hobe Sound Beach. This strip of land is considered to host some of the most exclusive real estate in the country. Mansions line the road instead of condominium high-rises, keeping traffic to a minimum. The road has its all-natural portions as well – the Blowing Rocks Preserve on the beach is a 73-acre sanctuary, and is home to the largest Anastasia limestone outcropping on the East Coast. It’s best experienced at high tide when the water blows up through the rock formations.


Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park

Best for: Hiking, equestrian trails

Location: SE Paulson Ave., Stuart

The Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park is one of the lesser-known spots in Martin County. It falls under the management of Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This park is primitive and rustic, with less infrastructure and facilities. “We try to manage our properties as they were historically,” explains park manager Mark Nelson. This 5,800-acre property consists of several Florida ecosystems, all mostly intact. Maps for the many hiking and riding trails are available at the Jonathan Dickinson State Park ranger station. It is also necessary to call the ranger station for a gate access code in order to gain admission; 772.546.2771

Call: 772.546.2771

Okeeheelee Park

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, equestrian trails, fishing, picnicking, water sports, team sports

Location: 7715 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach

The options are nearly limitless at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. The variety of facilities offered at the 1,702-acre park include walking and bicycling trails, an equestrian center, golf course, fields for team sports, and boat slips for fishing and water skiing. A nature center introduces visitors to just over two miles of nature trails for hiking. The bicycle paths cover eight miles, and are suitable for either walking or bicycling. Separate mountain biking trails are available for the more adventurous, as well as more than eight miles of equestrian trails. And a mile-long exercise course includes 20 stations for various workouts; co.palm-beach.fl.us/parks; 561.966.6600

Call: 561.966.6600

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, equestrian trails, camping, canoeing, fishing, picnicking, geo-seeking

Location: 16450 SE Federal Highway, Hobe Sound

This 11,500-acre park is one of the largest, and most varied in Florida. “It’s a very diverse resource that we have here, lots of opportunities to explore what we call the ‘real Florida,’” says Mark Nelson, manager of the park. There are several trail options in the park. For hiking, the Hobe Mountain Trail is the shortest at less than a mile. The Kitching Creek Loop is 7.5 miles, but can be made shorter by veering off onto the Wilson Creek trail. The East Loop Trail is the longest at just under 10 miles. The Camp Murphy Off-road Bicycle Trail System offers nine miles of paths for mountain bikers. More gentle paved paths are also available for bicyclists; 561.746.1466

Call: 561.746.1466

Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, equestrian trails, camping

Location: Lake Okeechobee

Known as LOST, the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail follows the perimeter of Lake Okeechobee. There are access points to the trail from 23 recreation areas. More than half of the 110-mile trail is paved, allowing for easy bicycling and walking. The rest consists of elevated gravel roadways atop the Herbert Hoover Dike. “About half of it is relatively Glades-like,” says George Melanson, the natural resource manager at the South Florida Operations Office, referring to the landscape of the lake itself. Be advised that parts of the trail are closed due to rehabilitation on the dike. A map of these closures is available on the Army Corps of Engineers website; 863.983.8101


Riverbend Park

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, equestrian trails, canoeing, fishing, picnicking

Location: 9060 Indiantown Road, Jupiter

Under the same management as the larger Okeeheelee Park, this property provides visitors with a more rustic experience. “Both parks (Okeeheelee Park and Riverbend Park) are large expansive parcels of green space in a highly urbanized area with a multitude of historical, cultural, active and/or resource-based recreational amenities not found anywhere else,” says Eric Call, director of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. The 665-acre Riverbend Park is less developed, offering nearly 10 miles of hiking and bicycling trails. Equestrians have access to nearly seven miles of trails, and canoes and kayaks can explore five miles of waterways. Bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals are available; 561.741.1359

Call: 561.741.1359

Spruce Bluff Preserve

Best for: Hiking

Location: 611 SE Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie

This 97-acre park allows visitors to step back into history. The two interpretive trails are both a short half-mile one way, each leading in opposite directions from the parking area. The Pioneer Trail passes through the remains of an 1891 pioneer settlement and cemetery. The AIS trail leads to an early Native American mound, which is the largest in South Florida. Both trails are self-guided. Maps are available with additional information on both paths; stlucieco.gov/beaches/76.htm; 772.462.2526

Call: 772.462.2526

Savannas Preserve State Park

Best for: Hiking, bicycling, equestrian trails, canoeing, fishing, picnicking

Location: 2541 Walton Road, Port St. Lucie

The park gets its name from the freshwater marshes that once extended along Florida’s Southeast Coast. This 10-mile stretch of parklands is the largest single piece of what’s left of the savannas today. The natural state of the preserve makes it a magnet for artists and photographers looking to capture its untouched beauty. The more than eight miles of trails are available for use by hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. Wildlife viewing is popular as well. The Environmental Education Center is able to provide additional information. Guided walks and canoe trips are also available; floridastateparks.org/park/Savannas; 772.398.2779

Call: 772.398.2779