cindy laquidara_hiking in jacksonvilleJacksonville is one of the most exciting cities in the United States. A Floridian paradise, known for its miles of beaches and river front views just a short drive from the state of Georgia. Thus, when most people think of Jacksonville, hiking, national parks and trails don’t come to mind as quickly as fishing and the city’s world class museums. Yet there are plenty of options for exploring the great outdoors, and the city is even home to Florida’s only REI retail store. Here’s some of the best trails to visit while in Jax.

 

Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail
Less than a 30 minute drive from Jacksonville’s busy downtown area, the Jacksonville-Baldwin trail offers the perfect break from city life for those who need a quick respite. With over 14 miles of asphalt trail and rows of trees, this rail trail offers a range of experiences and even some encounters with Florida’s diverse fauna, from hawks to alligators. The Jacksonville-Baldwin also includes a lot of history as one of north florida’s oldest rail trails, such as an old civil war encampment, a symbol of America’s interesting past.

Cary Nature Trail

The Cary Trail is located in the Stone Mountain Industrial Park just west of Jacksonville. The 3.3 miles of beautiful, open space is open to the public year-round, and is an easy hike for those who want something simple or just beginning the hiking experience. The Cary is included in Florida’s State Forest Trailwalker program, and cards are available onsite. Animal lovers are free to bring along dogs and/or horses, for some extra company along the way.

 

Julington-Durbin Preserve

Named for the confluence of the Julington and Durbin creeks, the 2,000 plus acres of land include multiple sandy trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, some of the trail extend more than 6 miles. The Julington-Durbin Preserve is a great option for children and families, because of its diverse terrain, great views and up close experience with wildlife, like manatees and deer. Make an adventure of it.

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Trail

Florida summers can be grueling, but the Kathryn Abbey Hanna Trail is the perfect remedy. The trail offers a frequent ocean breeze that’s both relaxing and exhilarating. For those who want a little more of a challenge, the trail is moderately difficult but quick, at just 2.7 miles. Open 7 days a week all year round, the hours vary: open from 8am-6pm November through March, 8am-8pm April through October.