What to do in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

In 1696, a Quaker merchant named Jonathan Dickinson shipwrecked off the coast in the area of Hobe Sound. Dickinson, his family and other survivors, made an arduous journey along the coast to St. Augustine. His journal, describing encounters with Native Americans and Spanish settlers, gives valuable information about life in early Florida.

A mosaic of thirteen ecological communities including sand scrub and pine flatwoods to bald cypress swamps and red mangrove estuaries exist in the park. About 20 percent of the park is covered in coastal sand pine scrub, a biological community so rare it is designated "globally imperiled."

The recreation-rich park of Jonathan Dickinson rests several miles inland off the southeastern shores of Florida, Juniper Island. The oceanfront is graced with numerous public beach facilities offering a variety of water sports. Included among the public lands is one of the more popular wildlife observation destinations, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is an important nesting ground for green, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles. Having said that, Jonathan Dickinson State Park has the last Atlantic coast state campground before the Florida Keys.

The park has an interesting background beginning in 1696, when a Quaker merchant by the name of Jonathan Dickinson tried to make his way to Pennsylvania from Jamaica and shipwrecked off the coast. Despite the park being named for Mr. Dickinson, he had no intention of settling the area. During World War II, the land was home to Camp Murphy, a base for Southern Signal Corps School. The barracks are still visible. Intermittent ownership gave way to logging before the park gained possession in 1950. The Florida East Coast Railway traveled through the parcel; you'll cross the old tracks if you hike East Loop Trail.

A colorful character named Trapper Nelson became "The Wild Man of the Loxahatchee." He moved the region in the 1930s, trapping, hunting, and building a popular wildlife zoo. He died in 1968 and today a 44-passenger tour boat named Loxahatchee Queen II takes visitors up the Loxahatchee River to the pioneer homesite of Trapper Nelson.

This park has nearly something for every outdoor taste. There is hiking, paddling, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, boat tours, environmental education programs, cabin rental, campgrounds, and more. An approximate 10-mile segment of the Florida Trail, beginning near the park entrance, travels through habitats designated as "globally imperiled."

Jonathan Dickinson State Park is located 12 miles south of Stuart on the west side of U.S. Highway 1.

Southern Florida lies within a subtropical climate. It is usually hot and humid in the summer with brief afternoon thundershowers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). The average precipitation for the southeast area is more than 60 inches per year. The powerful rays of the sun make it a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses along with using a SPF-15 (or above) sunscreen when planning outdoor activities.

16450 SE Federal Hwy.
Hobe Sound, FL 33455

Phone: 561-546-2771

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