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Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Hiking Trails in Indian River County

Indian River County,Florida has hiking trails for everyone. Families and recreational hikers can enjoy a day hike.  For the more adventurous, there are weekend backpacking trips and multi-day trekking trails.

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park

Jointly owned with the state of Florida, St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park is a total of 21,748 acres located in Brevard and Indian River counties, between the cities of Sebastian and Fellsmere.

The preserve has 60 miles of trails about equally split between Brevard and Indian River Counties. Most of our trails are very long and are more suited for horseback riding, mountain biking and extended hikes. Don’t forget to bring water and sun protection.

The State Park protects the West Indian manatee, red-cockaded woodpecker and Florida scrub jay by providing upland buffer to the river and limiting development in the area. The preserve is a mosaic of open pine flatwoods, seasonal wetlands, hardwood swamp, sand pine scrub and scrubby flatwood communities.

Wildlife abounds on the preserve. Visitors may see manatee, scrub jay, red-cockaded woodpecker, southern bald eagle, bobcat, river otter, deer and turkey. Several species of rare plants are also found here. A variety of wading birds, including wood storks and roseate spoonbills, use the property seasonally. Shorebirds such as white pelicans and black skimmers use Canal 54.
For more information:  The Florida Park Service is the lead manager, in cooperation with the District. Call the preserve at (321) 953-5004.

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park Southwest Red Trail

Hiking, Biking and Horse Trails- 17 miles
One remote primitive campsite for large group, 20 maximum, Eagle Camp has a horse coral, picnic  area and raised platforms for tents.

Special Wildlife
The preserve is central to the fourth largest population of the endangered scrub jay in the state of Florida. Scrub Jays are prevalent in this area and are found primarily in large areas of open, sandy habitat, in patches of scrubby flatwoods and oak scrub.

The habitat is also endangered and quickly disappearing in Florida due to coastal and upland development. Scrub habitat is maintained by prescribed fire to keep the habitat open for scrub jay feeding and to keep out taller trees that allow predator species to perch. Scrub jays in the preserve are banded to monitor populations, determine the effectiveness of management actions and ensure the long-term survival of the species.

As you experience the fun, beauty and peacefulness of being outdoors, please abide by state and national parks systems golden rule…..”Leave no trace. Everything packed in must be packed out.”

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park Northwest Green Trail

Northwest Parcel
Visitor’s Information Center
Hands on environment and historical exhibits.

  • Naval stores/turpentine operations on the Preserve
  • 19th and 20thcentury cattle ranching
  • 150 year logging industry
  • Wildlife and exotic creatures such as a Mastodon thigh bone found near the Preserve
  • Hands-on fun projects for children and adult children-at-heart
  • A wet laboratory for student research and monitoring projects.

Trails and campsites.
In this section, there are nine miles of trails through five natural communities: flat woods, oak hammock, wet prairie, mixed wetland hardwoods and cypress. You’ll see remains of homesteads dating back to the late 1800’s when citrus farming and cattle ranching flourished.

In another area, look for the few remaining “cat-faced” pines trees that survived near extinction from over-harvesting during the lumber and turpentine industry era of the late 1700’s to early 1900’s.

Around the 1800’s  to mid 1900’s the cattle industry prospered when only a few men owned and operated large-parcel ranches in this area.  

St.Sebastian River Preserve State Park Northeast Yellow Trail

Northeast Parcel

The Corrigan Family Ranch owned and managed the land in an environmentally friendly manner, enabling many rare and endangered species of plant and animals to survive. In the early 1900’s longleaf pine trees were prized as a fine wood for making furniture and the sap of slash pines was used to make turpentine. In order to transport the pine and cypress trees to the sawmill, miles of elevated railways called logging trams were built in this area. Over time, the rails were removed and many of the logging trams became overgrown with vegetation.

Trails and Campsites
19 miles of trails and two campsites.

Story-telling Camp accommodates 20, has a water pump and paddocks for horses and a composting restroom.

Pine Camp accommodates 20, is located in a high wildlife viewing area and has Cypress and Pine tree vistas.

Special Wildlife

Threatened Florida manatees are found in this quadrant at the Park’s C-54 spillway from November 1 to  April 1 each year.  As many as 100 manatees have been observed using the St. Sebastian River at one time. Along with being a refuge from boat traffic, it is favored because of the canal’s depth, low salinity and warmer water temperature in the winter.

Please Note That Feeding  Manatees is Prohibited!

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park Southeast Blue Trail

Recreation Facilities

Hiking, Biking & Horse Trails – 10 miles

Three Primitive Campsites

  • Ranch Camp
  • Horse Corrals & Equestrian Trailhead
  • Tree Frog
  • Mullet Camp- Historic “Catface” trees

Historic Sites

Carlton House – early 1900’s – All that remains of this private residence, hotel and barn are concrete wall sections and foundations that once overlooked theSebastianRiver.

Hanshaw – Widener House – Currently a privately occupied dwelling of a 1920’s two-story home, a 1950’s L-shaped ranch home, stable and barn situated on the St. Sebastian River.

Yates Homestead– Early 20th century homestead is located in an oak hammock with a small creek bisecting it. William B. Yates homestead in 1897 and received title to the property in 1902 through the 40-acre Homestead Act.

Graves Brothers Tram Line – The remains of an early 1920’s – 1930’s elevated logging tram road through what once was a Lumber/Turpentine Camp. The tracks were removed and all that remains is a recessed rock bed.

Dinky Line a.k.a. Trans Florida Central Railway – This early 20th century line was constructed in 1910 for Fellsmere Farms to haul timber that was cut on the property. By 1920, it was known as the Fellsmere Railroad. In 1923 the property was acquired by another company, Florida Central Railway, yet locals still referred to it as the Dinky Line. A few rails are all that remains.

Blue Cypress Conservation Area

This conservation area is 54,458 acres in size and extends from the Fellsmere Grade along C-54 Canal at the top of the Stick Marsh southward to State Road 60 west of Vero Beach in Indian River County. The area contains virtually all of the wetlands that eventually feed the St. Johns River. Like the Three Forks Conservation Area the birdwatching here is done from hiking and biking trails built upon the levees constructed by the St. John's River Water Management District in order to improve water quality of the headwaters and restore the river to its natural state after years of draining the wetlands for agricultural use. The water management impoundments provide great opportunities for seeing waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, deer, alligators, river otters, and many other species.

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

From Melbourne Beach, take A1A south, cross Sebastian Inlet and continue south. Facilities are located on the west side of A1A on the north end of historic Jungle Trail, which is a great birding location itself, especially during migration. From Wabasso, head North on A1A and you will see the entrance to the wildlife refuge and Jungle Trail on the left before you get to Sebastian Inlet.

Established by an executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt on March 14, 1903, Pelican Island was the first national wildlife refuge in the United States. It was created to protect egrets and other birds from extinction by plume hunters as hats with plumes had become a fashion rage in the country at the time. This was the first time that the federal government put land on the side for the sake of wildlife. In 2003, to celebrate it's centennial, new public facilities such as an observation tower and boardwalk have been installed. These new facilities are providing the public with the first opportunity, in it's 100-year history, to view the Pelican Island rookery from land and without the use of a boat. Located 1/2 mile south on Jungle Trail, the viewing are includes parking and two foot trails. Park at the Viewing Area; Pete's Impoundment Foot Trail is accessible from the Centennial Trail. Bicycles, horse back riding, pets and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trails.

The Lagoon Greenway

A 187 acre property located on the corner of 8th Street and indian River Blvd. The greenway is home to a three mile walking, joging and biking trail. Downlaod a brochure HERE. Courtsey of Indian River Land Trust.

Other Links:

Indian River Land Trust

Map of Trails

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