Floridian Nature

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Florida Nature: Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Jonathan Dickinson State Park  river sceneryJonathan Dickinson State Park is located 13 miles south of Stuart just off I-95 and US 1. Activities at the State Park include  horseback riding, hiking, biking, or boating. Several full-facility and primitive campgrounds are also available. The park offers Ranger-guided tours of a 1930s pioneer homestead as well as convenient, modern cabins for rent.

Although thousands of visitors each year explore more than a dozen natural communities within the 11,000-acre park, many are unaware of Jonathan Dickinson's daring journey through eastern Florida more than 300 years ago. Jonathan Dickinson was a Quaker merchant from Port Royal, Jamaica who was shipwrecked on the southeast coast of Florida in 1696, along with his family and the other passengers and crew members of the ship.

The party was held captive by Jaega Indians for several days, and then was allowed to travel by small boat and on foot the 230 miles up the coast to Saint Augustine. The party was subjected to harassment and physical abuse at almost every step of the journey to Saint Augustine. Five members of the party died from exposure and starvation on the way.

The Loxahatchee River, Florida's first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, runs through the park. One of Florida's most unique treasures, the Loxahatchee River meanders through freshwater creeks, down into a brackish estuary, and finally empties through the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. Journey back in time as you boat, canoe, or hike this Wild and Scenic River, and discover this gem for yourself.


The loxahatchee river in Jonathon Dickson State ParkRanger-guided tours of the 1930s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson are available year-round. From the 1930s until his death in 1968, Vincent Nostokovich, AKA Trapper Nelson lived on the Loxahatchee River and built his camp and an animal exhibit for tourists there. Known as "Tarzan of the Loxahatchee River", Nelson was a big man, standing 6 foot, 4 inches and 240 pounds.

Trapper Nelson was such a local folk icon that tourist boats from West Palm Beach would bring visitors to see the wild man in action wrestling alligators and other critters. Celebrities like Gary Cooper and Gene Tunney along with countless society heiresses visited the jungle hideaway. Trapper Nelson suffered a suspicious end to his life, which still keeps locals and tourists guessing as to what really happened.

Within the park, 14 miles of Nature trails twist their way through pine scrub, flatwoods and cypress sloughs. The East Loop Trail, a Florida Natural Scenic Trail, offers hikers and birdwatchers over nine miles of unpaved Florida frontier. About 20 percent of the park is covered in coastal sand pine scrub, a biological community so rare it is designated "globally imperiled."

Trails through the scrub are located off the entrance station parking lot and at Hobe Mountain.  For mountain bikers searching for a challenge, the Camp Murphy Off-Road Bicycle Trail is a must. Prior to the trail-head take a few moments to explore the 'Skills Park' located just east of the trail gazebo. Here, bikers can familiarize themselves with various obstacles configured to mimic situations encountered while using the Camp Murphy trail system. Set up so that novice or rusty riders can practice in an open grassy area free from injury, obstacles include log piles, a balance beam, and even a pit with ramps for the daring!




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Jonathan Dickinson State Park is located 13 miles south of Stuart just off I-95 and US 1. Activities at the State Park include horseback riding, hiking, biking, or boating. Several full-facility and primitive campgrounds are also available. The park offers Ranger-guided tours of a 1930s pioneer homestead as well as convenient, modern cabins for rent.
Jonathan Dickson State Park receives thousands of visitors each year that explore more than a dozen natural communities within the 11,000-acre park. The Loxahatchee River is found in the park, where it meanders through freshwater creeks, down into a brackish estuary, and finally empties through the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. Rediscover Floridian nature at its best as you boat, canoe, or hike this Wild and Scenic River. Ranger-guided tours of the 1930s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson are available year-round and worth the time to see. 14 miles of Nature trails twist their way through pine scrub, flatwoods and cypress sloughs. The East Loop Trail, a Florida Natural Scenic Trail, offers hikers and birdwatchers over nine miles of unpaved Florida frontier to explore.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Date published: 10/23/2013
5 / 5 stars