Nature Parks

Jacksonville Nature Parks and Beaches

Parks and Beaches Around Jacksonville

Fort Clinch State Park

Only minutes away from the urban sophistication of Jacksonville's city center, a natural wonderland awaits observation and discovery.

Opportunities are abundant for recreational activities in Jacksonville. From cool, refreshing swimming pools to numerous outdoor activities to team sports to enjoying the beauty of the city's natural settings - there is something for everyone here!

The City of Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the United States, providing services at more than 337 locations on more than 80,000 acres.

Amelia Island State Park

Amelia Island State Park is an 18-mile drive from Jacksonville but a world away from the sights and sounds of Florida's modern, urban scene. The island is a glimpse of what the state was like before it became a major tourist attraction and a popular place to settle in the sun year-round. The state park protects 200 acres of beaches, salt marshes and maritime forests, and attracts fishermen, birders, shell collectors and kayakers. It is also one of the few beaches on the Florida east coast that offers horseback riding tours.

Anastasia State Park
  • Anastasia State Park
  • Address: 1340-A State Road A1A South
    St. Augustine, Florida 32080
  • Phone: (904) 461-2033

Anastasia State Recreation Area is a 1,600-acre Florida State Park located on a peninsula on the Atlantic coast of Anastasia Island across Matanzas Bay from downtown St. Augustine.

Bayard Conservation Area

This conservation area’s importance is magnified by its closeness to the St. Johns River and the Jacksonville metropolitan area. It is a key to providing flood storage and preservation of water and natural resources in the Lower St. Johns River Basin. Riverine bottomland hardwoods, pine flatwoods and sandhill communities are bordered on the east by the St. Johns River with approximately seven miles of river frontage.

Bethesda Park
  • Bethesda Park
  • Address: 10790 Key Haven Boulevard
    Jacksonville, FL 32218-4442
  • Phone: (904) 764-5531

As part of the Jacksonville Urban Pond Project, Bethesda Park, offers excellent fishing opportunites and enjoyment for the entire family. At this location you will find: restrooms, walking trail, 3 fishing piers, a boardwalk, picnic area (equipped with grills), and a boat ramp for those that would like to paddle around.

Big Talbot Island

Located on one of Northeast Florida's unique sea islands, Big Talbot Island State Park is primarily a natural preserve providing a premier location for nature study, bird-watching, and photography. Explore the diverse island habitats by hiking Blackrock Trail to the shoreline, Big Pine Trail to the marsh or Old Kings Highway and Jones Cut through the maritime forest.

Black Creek Ravines

This tract consists primarily of natural woodlands and wetlands. The site exhibits a remarkable amount of relief for Florida landscapes, with elevations ranging from five feet above mean sea level at points along the creek to 90 feet above mean sea level on the sandhills in the property’s southern portion.

The property’s most distinctive characteristics are the seepage slopes and steep ravines that result from a series of naturally eroding seepage streams. The property exhibits a diversity of natural communities, some classified as being imperiled in Florida because of their rarity and vulnerability to natural or man-made factors. About 2.7 miles of the south shore of Black Creek is protected from development to maintain the important recharge functions of the upland sandhill community.

Black Creek Trail and Park
  • Black Creek Trail and Park
  • Address: Trail parallels U.S. Highway 17
    south of Orange Park,Florida
  • Phone: (904)284-6378 / (904)269-6378
  • Website: www.traillink.com

The trail passes by Moccasin Slough Park, a 255-acre wildlife preserve and nature park, home to alligators, bald eagles, and numerous waterfowl species. The recently developed park includes picnic areas, gazebo, playground and a structure for environmental education programs, all along Raggedy Point Road. There are also upland trails and wetland boardwalks with observation decks and a kayak launch.

Black Rock Trail

Park and start your way up the wide trail, where sand live oaks provide plenty of shade and dense saw palmetto defines the corridor. If you see a flash of bright color in the trees, stop and look more closely—this is a favorite habitat of the very colorful painted bunting.

At the fork in the trail, keep right. At the half-mile mark, you emerge above the unexpected shoreline, the “rock” carved into potholes and bluffs and even tidal pools with stringers of seaweed. Ospreys wheel above; they raise their young in the taller trees. Explore this unusual coastline by taking a wander to the left, heading north.

Fallen, sun-bleached trees are everywhere. Carefully make your way over the uneven surface, which will change every time you visit. At low tide, you can walk up at least a half-mile in either direction, to the north up to the promontory visited from the main parking lot, to the south to bluffs falling into the sea. Return on the Blackrock Trail to your car.

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Cary State Forest

The ecosystems on Cary State Forest are varied and include longleaf pine/wiregrass, mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, sandhills, basin swamps and cypress domes. Wildlife species found on the forest include: white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcat, otter, alligator, great horned and barred owl, wild hog, pileated woodpecker, yellow-throated vireo, pinewood tree frog and various venomous and non-venomous snake species.

Dutton Island Park and Preserve

Dutton Island Park and Preserve is a pristine salt marsh ecosystem that offers visitors exceptional wildlife viewing and awesome outdoor water opportunities.

Tranquility awaits visitors off the beaten path at the marsh observation viewing deck or on the scenic nature trail, where sites may include wading birds and a variety of native reptiles, along with palmettos and marshland habitat. Paddle to relaxation on the excellent kayak/canoe marked paddling trails. Dutton Island is also an angler's dream with ample fishing settings including a floating dock.

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Ed Austin Regional Park
  • Ed Austin Regional Park
  • Address: 11751 McCormick Road
    Jacksonville, Florida 32225
  • Phone: (904)630-4100
  • Website: More Info

The City of Jacksonville purchased this 144-acre site in 1994, and was formerly the Dunes Golf course. Among the amenities at this large, Arlington-area park is the City's top disc golf course.

Egans Creek Greenway
  • Egans Creek Greenway
  • Address: 2500 Atlantic Avenue
    Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
  • Phone: (904)277-7350
  • Website: http://www.fbfl.us

Over 300 acres that run north to south along Egans Creek, the Greenway was opened for public use in the summer of 2000 as an undeveloped park for passive recreational use. Its grass-covered roads are suitable for walking and bicycling and its environment exhibits a variety of natural wildlife and vegetation.

Fort Carolina
  • Fort Caroline National Memorial
  • Address: 12713 Fort Caroline Road
    Jacksonville, Florida 32225
  • Phone: (904) 641-7155
  • More Info: www.nationalparks.org

Visit one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast. Discover 6,000 years of human history and experience the beauty of salt marshes, coastal dunes, and hardwood hammocks. Fort Caroline was the first French colony in the present-day United States. Established in what is now Jacksonville, Florida, on June 22, 1564, under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnicre, it was intended as a refuge for the Huguenots.

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Fort George Island Cultural State Park
  • Fort George Island Cultural State Park
  • Address: 12157 Heckscher Drive
    Jacksonville, Florida 32226
  • Phone: (904)251-2320
  • Website: www.floridastateparks.org

Native Americans feasted here, colonists built a fort, and the Smart Set of the 1920s came for vacations. A site of human occupation for over 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Today´s visitors come for boating, fishing, off-road bicycling, and hiking. A key attraction is the restored Ribault Club. Once an exclusive resort, it is now a visitor center with meeting space available for special functions. Behind the club, small boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.

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Friendship Fountain

Situated at the west end of the Southbank Riverwalk adjacent to the Museum of Science and History is Friendship Fountain. Dedicated in 1965, it is one of the largest self-contained fountains built, pumping 3,500 to 6,500 gallons of water per minute to a height of 100 feet, with 265 lights molding the water into a sparkling mist. Whether you are looking for a peaceful place for a picnic, or just want to watch the river flow by, Friendship Fountain provides the ideal setting for a sunny afternoon or a romantic evening Downtown.

GTM Reserve

The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses approximately 73,352 acres of salt marsh and mangrove tidal wetlands, oyster bars, estuarine lagoons, upland habitat and offshore seas in Northeast Florida. The GTM Reserve is located in the East Florida subregion, south of Jacksonville and sandwiching St. Augustine. It contains the northernmost extent of mangrove habitat on the east coast of the United States, some of the highest dunes in Florida, measuring 30-40 feet, and one of the few remaining "inlets" in northeast Florida not protected by a jetty thus presenting an easy study of what an inlet might have looked like in the past. The coastal waters of the GTM Reserve are also important calving grounds for the endangered Right Whale.

Huguenot Memorial Park
  • Huguenot Memorial Park
  • Address: 10980 Heckscher Drive
    Jacksonville, FL 32226-2524
  • Phone: (904)251-3335
  • Website: More Info

Huguenot Park offers visitors waterfront campsites, a bird observation area, and gorgeous views of some of North Florida's remaining natural areas. Amenities include swimming, fishing, surfing, a boat launch area, picnic shelters, restrooms, and shower facilities. The park is also a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Escape to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for the only walking safari in Northeast Florida. Discover the earth’s wildlife through interactive and educational experiences. A true family adventure, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is growing and changing daily and is dedicated to consistently improving. Beginning in 2004 with Range of the Jaguar and continuing with Giraffe Overlook and Savanna Blooms garden, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is quickly becoming a world-class establishment. The Zoo has something for everyone with more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 varieties of plants. Whether you are a visitor to Florida’s First Coast or a lifetime resident, we invite you to experience the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens through interactions with people, wildlife and the environment.

Jennings State Forest

Jennings State Forest was purchased through the State of Florida's Conservation and Recreation Lands Program, Preservation 2000 Program, and the Save Our Rivers Program in cooperation with the St. John's River Water Management District. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Forest Service has management responsibility for Jennings State Forest.

Kathryn Abby Hanna Park / (Hanna Park)
  • Kathryn Abby Hanna Park / (Hanna Park)
  • Address: 500 Wonderwood Drive
    Jacksonville, FL 32233
  • Phone: (904)249-4700
  • Email: hannapark@coj.net
  • Website: More Info

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park ... it's all in the experience.

- 1.5 miles of pristine sandy beach
- A 60-acre freshwater lake (fishing, kayaks, pedal boats and canoes)
- Kids splash park (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
- Camping facilities (RV and tent camping, and rustic cabin rentals
- Scenic trails designed for both biking and hiking
-Picnic areas
-Facilities for cookouts, reunions, retreats, other group activities (reservations required)
-The "Poles," one of Northeast Florida's premiere surfing destinations

Park Hours:
8 a.m. - 8 p.m. daily, April - October
8 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily, November - March

Little Talbot Island State Park

With more than five miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches, Little Talbot Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. Maritime forests, desert-like dunes and undisturbed salt marshes on the western side of the island allow for hours of nature study and relaxation. The diverse habitats in the park host a wealth of wildlife for viewing, including river otters, marsh rabbits, bobcats and a variety of native and migratory birds.

Moses Creek Conservation Area

The Moses Creek Conservation Area preserves one of the few remaining undeveloped tidal creeks in the region. The tidal marshes served as an important resource to Native Americans who occupied the area thousands of years ago. Moses Creek is a tributary to the Matanzas River. The District purchased this land, which surrounds Moses Creek, to protect important water resources and ecological functions and to protect wildlife habitat. Seven natural communities — scrub, upland mixed forest, freshwater tidal swamp, mesic flatwood, depression marsh, dome swamp and estuarine tidal marsh — can be found on the land. The diverse vegetative communities provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Canopied dirt roads serve as trails beneath grand old live oaks, through scrub, to sandy bluffs overlooking Moses Creek.

Pope Duval Park

This Jacksonville fishing spot is a 411 acre regional park located on Jacksonville’s westside near Baldwin. Pope Duval park is part of Jacksonville’s Urban Ponds project which is managed by the FWC. Being that this is an FWC Fish Management Area, be sure to check the latest regulations and observe all posted rules in this area. There are trails, picnic tables, a pedestrian dock, and grills are also available at this location. There is a fishing pier at the third pond with allows the youngters the ability to drop a line without having to trek through the woods.

Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park

East of Jacksonville's skyscrapers and west of the beaches, this state park protects one of the largest contiguous areas of coastal uplands remaining in Duval County. The uplands protect the water quality of the Nassau and St. Johns rivers, ensuring the survival of aquatic plants and animals, and providing an important refuge for birds. Wildlife is abundant and ranges from the threatened American alligator to the endangered wood stork. Equestrians, hikers, and off-road bicyclists can explore five miles of multi-use trails that wind through the park's many different natural communities. The park has a canoe/kayak launch accessible by a 500 foot portage to the marshes. Located off I-95 or 9A, head east on Heckscher Drive. Turn north on New Berlin Road, then east on Cedar Point Drive. Turn north on Pumpkin Hill Road. Trailhead parking is approximately one mile on the left.

Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest

Ralph E. Simmons State Forest (previously known as St. Mary's State Forest) was renamed in 1996 as a memorial to a former St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Member who was instrumental in the purchase of the forest. The St. Johns River Water Management District purchased the parcel with funds from the Preservation 2000 and the Save Our Rivers Programs. The Florida Forest Service currently manages the property through a management agreement established in 1992 with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Reddi Point Preserve
  • Reddi Point Preserve
  • Address: 4499 Yachtsman Way
    Jacksonville, FL 32277
  • More Info: www.coj.net

To get Reddie Point Preserve, travel north on University Boulevard past Jacksonville University. When you see Blue Cypress Park on your left, continue on to Yachtsman Way. Unfortunately, there's no sign there pointing to Reddie Point, but if you turn right, you will find the park's entrance.

The park has one-and-a-half miles of hiking trails, picnic tables, parking spaces for 20 vehicles, a canoe and kayak launch and a long fishing pier with floating docks. This is another one of our area's great parks and one that provides access to the spectacular St. Johns River.

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Stokes Landing Conservation area

This was the first District acquisition within the coastal basin of the Tolomato River. This conservation area was purchased to protect water resources, wetlands and wildlife habitat. Stokes Landing serves as an outdoor classroom for environmental education, as it has been visited by area students and their teachers over the years. An observation platform for wildlife and marsh viewing was rebuilt by St. Johns County students. The students also developed interpretive trails.

Tillie K. Fowler Park

One of Jacksonville's largest parks, this 509-acre property features the Tillie K. Fowler Nature Center with outdoor classroom, picnic area with grills and playground equipment, biking trails, a series of hiking.

Tideviews Preserve
  • Tideviews Preserve
  • Address: West 1st Street and Begonia Street, west of Mayport Road
    Atlantic Beach, FL.
  • Phone: (904)247-5800
  • Email:
  • Website: www.coab.us/index.aspx?NID=162

Tideviews Preserve is located at the end of West 1st Street and Begonia Street, west of Mayport Road. Tideviews Preserve consists of 8 acres of passive parkland. Tideviews offers a scenic view of the Intracoastal Waterway, 2500 feet of trail and boardwalk, restroom facilities, canoe launch, scenic overlook, a fishing area and public parking.

Timucuan Trail

Welcome to the Timucuan Trail State and National Parks. We are a partnership formed in 1999 between the National Park Service, the Florida Park Service and the City of Jacksonville. The partnership now includes the Nature Conservancy and manages approximately 84,000 acres of unspoiled natural Florida, helping to create one of the largest urban park systems in the nation. As part of the Timucuan Trail State and National Parks partnership, the city, the state and National Park Service participate in the development of access and management plans, regardless of ownership. Lands jointly managed by the partnership encompass a dynamic coastline salt marsh/estuarine system of relatively natural, unimpaired areas within Jacksonville’s city limits.

Tree Hill Nature Center
  • Tree Hill Nature Center
  • Address: 7152 Lone Star Rd.
    Jacksonville, FL 32211 32092
  • Phone: (904) 724-4646
  • Website: www.treehill.org/

Located in the center of Jacksonville, Florida, Tree Hill Nature Center is THE place to connect with nature for individuals, school field trips, home schoolers, scout troops, business groups and families.

Trout Creek Park

Trout Creek Park is a 16.5 acre passive park open free of charge to all visitors. The site features a double boat ramp with handy access to Trout Creek and the St. Johns River. An accessible boardwalk borders the canal and ramps. A half-mile nature trail meanders along the inside perimeter of the park. A small outdoor amphitheater provides an ideal location for small classes and lectures.

UNF Nature Trails

Main trails and two loop connector trails are open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. Encouraged by campus planner Hilton Meadows, the first President of UNF, Thomas G. Carpenter applied to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for campus designation as a state protected Bird Sanctuary to control hunting around campus. This designation continues to protect hundreds of acres and millions of organisms on UNF campus Robert Loftin along with the Sawmill Slough Conservation Club, UNF faculty, staff and community members established our original 12 mile nature trail system on campus. In early 1973 they were opened to the public and by 1977 were recognized as National Recreation Trails, listed by the Department of the Interior. Today the remaining 5 miles of trails are complemented with interpretive education signs and are maintained for environmental education, research and low impact recreation. The University of North Florida has one of the best natural assets of any Florida university.

Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park

Located near the mouth of the St. Johns River, this site was an important military position during the Civil War, allowing access to the inland areas of Florida's east coast. There was never an actual fort on Yellow Bluff, but an encampment that was fortified and equipped with large guns for protection. Constructed in 1862, the site was occupied by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War and-at its peak-housed over 250 soldiers. The site has a T-shaped earthworks and covers about 1.3 acres. Located on Yellow Bluff peninsula on the north side of the St. Johns River (on New Berlin Road).