When you think of hiking, Jacksonville may not be the first city to come to mind due to the endless summer the First Coast enjoys almost all year. But, on the days when the humidity is low, and the temperature is just right, many of us feel inspired to don our favorite pair of walking shoes or hiking boots and hit the best hiking trails Jacksonville FL natives absolutely love!
Jacksonville is home to many natural, historical, and beautiful spaces where residents and visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse themselves in nature. The area boasts many regional parks, ecological preserves, historical sites, and beach-side trails where you can get reacquainted with nature while boosting your heart rate!
When you feel the great outdoors calling you, we’re here to tell you where to take a hike in Jacksonville!
Experience different Florida ecosystems as you hike through the Theodore Roosevelt Area. From tall oak trees swathed in Spanish moss to the beautiful Florida marshlands, you are really able to immerse yourself in Florida’s natural beauty.
This area was donated to the Nature Conservancy by Willie Brown, a Florida native who spent his entire life living off the land. You can still find the foundation of his cabin and his family cemetery along the hiking trails.
Pro-Tip: If you don’t have time to do the whole hike, at least make it to the bird observation tower. You get a wonderful view of Round Marsh and will see plenty of wildlife!
Arguably one of the most versatile trails on the First Coast, the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail is a local favorite for hiking. In 1992, this abandoned railroad corridor was purchased by the City from CSX Transportation Inc through the Florida Greenways and Trails Program.
The trail is now part of the “Rails to Trails” program designed to rehabilitate abandoned railroad lines into “linear parks” for mixed-use purposes. At 100 feet wide and 14.5 miles long, the trail connects Imeson Road in Jacksonville to the town of Baldwin. Sporting a paved 12-foot wide path, the track is used by hikers, bikers, rollerbladers, and others who want to enjoy the rural landscape and abundant wildlife.
At the mid-point trailhead, the trail is contiguous with the Camp Milton Historic Preserve, and five other trailheads are located along the route for convenient access.
Pro Tip: If you want to hike off the beaten path, there are 8.5 miles of spur trails onto the Rail Trail’s buffer properties.
📍 850 Center St. N Jacksonville FL 32234
Bell Springs Trailhead is located just outside of Jacksonville in White Springs, Florida. This 4.6-mile round-trip hike is teaming with thrilling vistas and wildlife. The best part of hiking Bell Springs Trailhead is the thrill of witnessing Florida’s only Class III whitewater up the trail at Big Shoals.
The hike is worth the effort as it takes you through spectacular geological features along one of the most scenic portions of the Florida Trail along the Suwanee River. The round trip trek shows off not just the shoals but also the freshwater spring run for Bell Springs, a waterfall at Robinson Branch, and other significant features along the river banks.
Pro Tip: Mild elevation changes make a nice change; bring bug spray.
📍 Florida Trail, White Springs, FL 32096
Nestled in 1,222 acres acquired by the City of Jacksonville as part of a conservation easement for mitigation, Bulls Bay Preserve buffers the Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail. Located from Imeson Road to Bulls Bay Hwy, this preserve consists of mostly wetlands with tributaries to the Ortega and Trout rivers. Hiking Bulls Bay Preserve is an easy 2 miles of trails at the Old Plank Road trailhead.
You can also stroll down the northern swamp path and pass by giant live oak trees, beautiful lily ponds, and abundant nature. The variety of slight elevation changes makes this trail a fun North Florida hike, and one of our favorite hiking trails in Jacksonville!
Pro Tip: Snap a selfie at the waterfall!
📍 8017 Old Plank Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32220
Hiking Tillie K. Fowler Trail will take you back in time. Leased from the Navy in 1979, then-Councilwoman Tillie Fowler spearheaded the development of the land for public use. At the trailhead, you embark on remnants of a 16-foot wide brick road that once linked Ortega to Jacksonville. The road pre-dates 1917 but was used for training American soldiers during WWI.
This brick road is also found in other locations around the park, adding to the intrigue of your hike. Since its opening, the park has improved and expanded the hiking trails, including off-road bike trails and a dog park.
Pro Tip: Hike to the Nature Tower for an excellent area view!
📍 7000 Roosevelt Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32244
The Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens has plenty of different trails to choose from! Enjoy a 0.3 mile completely paved leisurely stroll around Lake Ray to get some fresh air, or choose more strenuous hikes like the Sand Trail, which takes you through unique lichen regions and rosemary scrubs. You can also explore the Upper and Lower ravine trails to find tiny pools and beautiful creeks flowing around the path!
Don’t miss out on all the other beautiful trails in this area, too! There are also amazing seasonal events, like Dazzling Nights, that you don’t want to miss!
Pro-Tip: There is a $3 admission fee, but you can become a Jacksonville Arboretum member for unlimited visits!
With 1.5 miles of sandy beach, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a go-to for beach walks and trail hikes. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is also where people go for camping, kayaking, mountain biking, picnics, and fishing in the 60-acre lake. The parks hiking trails take you through low-lying areas, scrub oaks, palm trees, and tropical vegetation.
If you like to bird-watch, plenty of coastal birds are also enjoying the park. If you’re into local wildlife, this is one of the best hiking trails in Jacksonville for you! Keep an eye out for alligators and other critters who live in the area.
Pro Tip: Entry fees vary, so check in advance before you visit.
📍 500 Wonderwood Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32233
When the great outdoors is calling, we are sure you’ll find these best scenic hiking trails in Jacksonville precisely what you need! Whether you’re looking for something simple for an afternoon stroll or a challenging hike traversing the local landscape, a trail in Jacksonville is calling your name. Put on those comfy shoes and go take a walk on the wild side in Jacksonville!
Duval Native | Sunshine State ☀️ | Aspiring Plant Mom 🌱...