Updated: 6 days ago
Florida is not the first place people think about when they think about hiking. Here in Palm Beach County, we don't have mountain tops with sweeping vistas. We do have unique eco-systems, teeming with wildlife. The northern sections of the Everglades can be accessed by our trails. Our wetlands are home to migrating birds, wild hogs, river otters, bobcats and coyotes. Hikers are rewarded with treks that pass through multiple eco-sytems, as they get time in nature and exercise.
Grassy Waters Preserve
This 23 square mile, fresh water marsh is the northern portion of the Everglades. It is the source of drinking water for West Palm Beach, South Palm Beach and Palm Beach Island. Visiting this pristine preserve is an opportunity to experience the northern Everglades in its natural state. You can access Grassy Waters Preserve off Northlake Blvd. On the south side is the 1.5 out and back elevated Boardwalk Nature trail. It is appropriate for all skill levels and it is stroller and wheelchair accessible. You can stop by the nature center and sign up for a guided hike or explore on your own.
Hog Hammock and Promontory Trail Loop
My favorite trail in Grassy Waters Preserve is the 4.1mile Hog Hammock and Promontory Trail Loop. This trail has a large parking area and picnic area is on the north side of Northlake Blvd. This a flat shell packed and boardwalk trail that offers beautiful views of lakes, marshes and Cypress swamps. In the late winter, the wild flowers are beautiful.
Loxahatchee Slough Nature Area
This protected area preserves the headlands of the Loxahatchee River. The Loxahatchee River is one of two rivers in Florida that has the Wild and Scenic designation. In the 1960's Congress enacted legislation that "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations."
Loxahatchee Slough Nature Trail
The Loxahatchee Slough Nature Trail is a 5 mile loop that takes you to multiple ecosystems. These are multiple use trails for equestrians, bikers and hikers. You hike through hardwood swamps and grassy marshes. On the day we hiked, much of the the southeast side of the trail was under water. Be prepared with water shoes in your pack, or just embrace it and hike through. One of the interesting sights was the abundance of air plants growing along the trails.
Riverbend Park is located on Indiantown Road just west of the Florida Turnpike. Whether you choose to walk, bike, drive or paddle in, this natural and historic playground, has hiking, biking and equestrian trails. It is the beginning of Jeaga Wildways Trail and the Ocean to Lake Trail transverses the park. Jupiter Outdoor Center rents bikes and kayaks in Riverbend Park. My favorite way to explore this wilderness area is on foot.
Riverbend Park Loop
This 3 mile loop takes you through the center of the park. This trail is family friendly and flat. The trail is clearly marked and has boardwalks over the wet areas. The wildlife and vistas are spectacular. There are plenty of offshoots that allow you to extend the length of your hike.
Riverbend Park to Loxahatchee Slough
This multiple use, hard packed shell, out and back trail traverses the area from Riverbend Park and the Loxahatchee Slough Area. Large parts of the trail are in full sun and can be hot in the summer months. In the cooler months, the wildlife is abundant. This 4 mile trek can be done on foot or on bike. Jupiter Outdoor Center rents bikes and kayaks in Riverbend Park. They will make sure you have everything you need to enjoy this wilderness area.
Ocean to Lake and Cypress Creek East Loop
The Ocean to Lake Trail wanders through Riverbend Park and the Cypress Creek Natural area just north and east of Riverbend Park . It is described as "One of the more beautiful and difficult hiking routes in South Florida. The Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail is a 61 mile introduction to wild spaces that you wouldn’t expect to still exist on this heavily populated coast of Florida. Created and maintained by the Loxahatchee chapter of the Florida Trail Association, it is a spur trail off the Florida Trail. It is routed through the North Everglades Natural Area, a ribbon of public lands between Lake Okeechobee and Hobe Sound Beach.
As you’re hiking through the wilds of DuPuis Reserve, Corbett WMA, Loxahatchee Slough, and the backcountry of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, it’s hard to imagine over a million people live in the West Palm Beach metro nearby."
Riverbend Park via Old Indiantown Road
This 8.5 mile out and back trail starts and ends at Riverbend Park. The lake along the trail is home to multiple species of migratory birds. The trail runs along the16.5 mile road used in the 1950's to go between Jupiter and Indiantown. There are plans to complete the entire 16.5 mile trek. Today this well maintained, hiking and biking trail is a delightful way to explore nature and get some exercise.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Whether you are looking for a short nature hike, a 4 mile round trip walk on a paved multi-use trail or a 10 mile hike on part of the Lake to Ocean Trail, Jonathan Dickinson State Park has a trail for you. I love to hike! Jonathan Dickinson gives me a place close to home to stretch my legs and enjoy nature. The terrain is diverse and the wildlife plentiful. While I have not seen a bobcat yet, I have seen lots of deer, raccoons, possums, tortoises and a few alligators.
Jonathan Dickinson East Loop Trail
Looking for a longer hike, head to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, jus across the Palm Beach County/Martin County Line. This 9.5 loop trail is best done during the week. You share the trail with bikers and the traffic on the weekends can be heavy. Make sure you bring a sunhat and sunscreen because there is not a lot of shade, however the wildlife is abundant. In the wet season this trails always dry.
Jonathan Dickinson Nature Trail
This 1.5 loop is part of the Kitching Creek Trail. You start north and west of the main parking lot on the Loxahatchee River. Enjoy the flat sandy and mostly shaded trail for a 1/2 a mile or so and curve to the east to return to the parking lot. While not long, this trail is a good example of what to expect on south Florida trails. Keep your eyes out for turtles and birds especially in the winter months.
Look for updates to this post. I have taken the 52 Hikes Challenge for 2022 and will be hiking my way around Palm Beach County. Make sure you have appropriate Hiking Clothes and safety gear when you are hiking. Check out my Hiking Favorites on LiketoKnowit. and my Amazon Store.
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