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Back in November, 2007 I backpacked Jonathan Dickinson State Park. I did the 9.5 mile loop. I used to do this hike at least once a year but because I moved further north in Florida, I don't get there as often anymore.
Including river swamps, mangroves, pine flatwoods and sand pine scrub, and located just south of Stuart, FL, Jonathan Dickinson State Park teems with wildlife in thirteen natural communities. Florida's first federally designated Scenic and Wild River, the Loxahatchee River, runs through the park.
As I begin my hike, I see where the growth here is still modest since they did a controlled burn and removed many of the trees that were damaged by recent hurricanes. When I first hiked Jonathan Dickinson State Park years ago this area was just beautiful with lush trees. You can't tell by the way it looks here but it grows back fast.
Start of Trail
As I hike I look over to the left and see the Hobe Mountain Trail observation tower. From there you can see Jupiter Island and the Intracoastal Waterway to the east as well as almost all parts of Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
Hobe Mountain Observation Tower
I have seen a lot of wildlife in Jonathan Dickinson State Park including a large Buck deer. I have to admit, seeing a deer with a rack like this is pretty amazing!
Large Buck Deer!
I finally get to the north side of the park and start heading west. I come to a place where a small creek flows across the trail. I remember a time when they did not have these bridges to cross. I have to say it was interesting trying to cross the water back then. We would use fallen trees and anything we could find to build our own bridge. I used to get annoyed when the ranger would tell us "walking through the water is part of the adventure". I don't like getting my feet wet!
Small Wooden Bridge
I get further west and I reach a very long wooden bridge that takes me across the swamp here. I remember this place well. This is where I lost one of the rubber feet from my trekking poles. It got hung up under one of the boards and was pulled off. I never did find it!
Long Wooden Bridge
On segments of the Florida Trail, two backpacking camps are available. Maps of the Trail are available at the Ranger Station at the front gate. One camp is five miles out along the trail, which is the one I will come upon next, and the other is nine miles out. Near each camp, a pitcher pump is located. Water must be filtered or treated. Pets are not permitted at these camps or on this trail.
Be sure to pack a stove for cooking, because collection of firewood is not permitted in Florida State Parks. Reservations are not required, but are suggested, overnight trips to these camps must begin by certain specified times of the day. For reservations and information, call the Ranger Station at (772) 546-2771.
Primitive Camp Site
I decided to have lunch here at the campsite and take a little nap on the wood bench. I would listen to the wind blowing through the pine trees nearby. It doesn't get much better than this!
Nice Pine Trees!
After resting for a while, I start hiking and soon see one of the water pumps nearby. I have never used this water for anything. If you wish to drink the water, filter or treat it first.
I get to the far western portion of this loop where it is a wetland on both sides of the trail. I have seen an alligator right by the trail. All you could see was the eyes and nose sticking up out of the water. These things are real sneaky!
I come to an intersection in the trail. If I go right, it takes me towards the other campsite. If I take a left, it takes me back to the start of this loop. I turn left and decide to go back to the parking lot and front gate. I soon come out of the wet west side of this loop and go into what my old friend Harry Johnson used to call "The Frying Pan"! (Lots of sun due to lack of trees and lots of white sand)
Exit Wetlands and Enter The Frying Pan!
As I hike I look off the trail and see a water hole. These are all over Florida.
Just before I reach the return trail, I see something moving up ahead. It's a wild hog!
I finally make it to the southernmost part of the trail where it turns east and heads across the railroad tracks, Old Dixie Highway (the blacktop is still visible in the woods) and will soon meet up with a short turn off to a nice small lake.
Eastern Return Trail
I soon see another small water hole off the side of the trail.
Small Water Hole
I reach the short turn off trail to the right and decide to take it. I come upon this small gorgeous lake! It has a wooden bench nearby and I sit there for a while taking it all in and then make my way out to the parking area by the front gate. Job well done!
Small Gorgeous Lake!
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