Meandering Around Miami

Hiking Southeast Florida
Gorp.com
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If you're looking for heart-pounding climbs, you won't find them on the trails of southeast Florida. But if you're seeking lush, green vegetation and incredible biological diversity, you couldn't pick a better destination than this. From its sandy beaches to its swampy forests, southeast Florida offers the hiker plenty of options. We'll begin our exploration of the region along the coastline, then move inland and into the magnificent Everglades.

Jonathan Dickinson Trails

Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Martin County (near Jupiter Island)
East Loop: 9.4 miles
Kitching Creek: 4.0 miles

Jonathan Dickinson, his wife, and their infant child were early Florida hikers although they had not planned to be. They were with a group of Quakers who were shipwrecked in the vicinity in 1696. After great difficulty, they eventually reached St. Augustine where they were able to arrange transportation to their home in Philadelphia. Mr. Dickinson's journal of their travails gives a valuable picture of life in early Florida. When you hike the trail, think of this little family, accompanied by a baby and without 'state-of-the-art' camping and hiking gear, making their way to St. Augustine.

The state park is located on the banks of the Loxahatchee River, which has recently been designated a National Wild and Scenic River. The river is of historic interest as well, since it was near here that the Battle of Loxahatchee River took place on January 24, 1838. This was one of the many skirmishes of the Second Seminole War. In all, the park encompasses over 10,000 acres of sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangrove, and river swamp. The trails, which were built by the Florida Trail Association, wind through these plant communities and along Kitching Creek. They can be wet during the rainy season. There are designated primitive campsites on each trail, but no potable water. Camping is limited to no more than eight persons and water from the pumps must not be used for drinking. Cooking fuel must also be packed in, since firewood gathering is not allowed.

Begin: At Jonathan Dickinson State Park, located off US 1 just south of the town of Hobe Sound.

End: Same place; these are loop trails.

Camping: On the trails, at the designated sites. Campers must register with the ranger. Camping with all facilities is available at the state park.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.

For Further Information: Jonathan Dickinson State Park, 16450 SE Federal Highway, Hobe Sound, FL 33455

'Spite Highway'

Biscayne National Park
Dade County (near Miami)
North Route:5 miles
South Route: 9 miles

Located 7 miles offshore on Elliott Key, this trail's name hints at its interesting history. It was built by a group of island residents in 1968 in a vain attempt to develop the island and thus delay its purchase as part of Biscayne National Park. The only evidence of the 'development' is this bulldozed swath cut through the center of the island, the planned site of a 'highway' that would be built out of 'spite.'

There is no regularly scheduled transportation to and from the island, so once there, hikers often have the place to themselves: a wonderful opportunity to enjoy your own Atlantic island! From the Elliott Key Visitor's Center, hikers may walk 2.5 miles to the northern end of the island and return or 4.5 miles to the southern end and return. Camping is permitted on the grounds of the visitor's center, where there are restrooms, cold-water showers, and potable water available. No open fires are permitted but fire rings are provided. Transportation to the island may be arranged with the boating concessionaire at the Convoy Point Information Station at Biscayne National Park Headquarters.

Begin: At the Elliott Key Visitor's Center on Elliott Key, offshore from Biscayne National Park Headquarters, south of Miami.

End: Same place; the trail is a round-trip route.

Camping: Permitted at the visitor's center.

Difficulty: Easy.

For Further Information: Biscayne National Park


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Jul 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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