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“Great hiking and free!”

Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve
Ranked #24 of 172 things to do in Jacksonville
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Owner description: Learn all about the history of Florida's Native Americans here.
Reviewed January 19, 2014

We visited this preserve on our recent trip to Jacksonville. What an excellent visit. We went on several hikes that really allowed us to experience the woodlands of Northern Florida. It was the first time we have hiked in this type of environment, it was a great way to spend an afternoon. If you are in the area, I highly recommend visiting this preserve.

1  Thank mrwamw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 28, 2013

If you take the time to visit several units of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, you'll agree that it's a five-star attraction.

The Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve encompasses a 46,000-acre area that represents 6,000 years of human history in the area. The two main parts by acreage are unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast with salt marshes, coastal dunes, and hardwood hammocks. There are individual park sites to visit. Each site is unique for its own aspect of natural or cultural history.

The preserve was established in 1988 by the United States Congress. It was named for the pre-Columbian Timucua Indians. They had 35 chiefdoms in northern Florida and southern Georgia at the time of Spanish colonization in the early 1500’s. By 1821, when the United States acquired Florida, the Timucua were extinct due to epidemics from contagious diseases from contact with Europeans and from warfare with the European settlers.

The park is operated under a three-way partnership with the U.S. National Park Service, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the City of Jacksonville Department of Parks & Recreation.

The most logical place to begin your visit of this vast park is at the Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center at 12713 Fort Caroline Road in Jacksonville which features the exhibit "Where the Waters Meet" which will serve as orientation. The VC is located at Fort Caroline National Memorial, a park unit that is listed separately and reviewed separately at TripAdvisor. It is at this VC that four of the seven National Parks Passport cancellation stamps are located. They read:
* Timucuan Preserve - Jacksonville, FL
* Gulla-Geechee National Heritage Corridor - Timucuan Preserve
* Gulla-Geechee National Heritage Corridor - Fort Caroline NM
* Fort Caroline National Memorial - Jacksonville, FL

Units of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve include:
- TIMUCUAN ECOLOGICAL PRESERVE which is primarily natural acreage with hiking trails and opportunities for kayaking in the salt marsh environment of Simpson Creek, a tidal river that runs between Big Talbot and Little Talbot Island State Parks.

- THEODORE ROOSEVELT AREA - is a 600-acre area of hardwood forest, wetlands, and scrub vegetation. It is also rich in cultural history. It was a gift from William “Willie” Browne III in 1990. There are a number of hiking trails that connect to other sites within the preserve. There is an observation platform for birding and wildlife-watching. You will also find the shell mounds dating from the time of the Timucua. It is located at 13165 Mount Pleasant Road which is about 2 miles from the fort.

- FORT CAROLINE NATIONAL MEMORIAL - memorializes the short-term presence of French settlers in 16th century Florida. Its heritage is full of stories of exploration, survival, territorial battles, religious disputes, and first contact between American Indians and Europeans.

- SPANISH POND - is where 500 Spanish soldiers marched four days through marsh, forest tangle, fierce winds, and heavy rainfall to an encampment near here. It is where Menendez and his men camped, exhausted and weary, the night before the attack and capture of Fort Caroline. Today, Spanish Pond's boardwalk and trail provide a chance for a walk. It connects you to more trails through pine flatwoods, oak hammock, and tidal marsh in the neighboring Theodore Roosevelt Area. Its parking lot is located across the road from the entrance road to Fort Caroline. At this writing, this unit does not have a separate listing for writing a review so I’ll include mine here. I hiked through a portion of this unit of the preserve with a group of young fellows. It was a pleasant, easy afternoon walk in the fresh air.

- RIBAULT MONUMENT - is part of the Fort Caroline National Memorial. The monument is up the road from the fort.

- KINGSLEY PLANTATION - on Fort George Island provides a look back at slavery and 1800’s Southern plantation life. The reception desk/bookstore at Kingsley Plantation has the National Parks Passport Cancellation Station. There are three stamps. They read:
* Kingsley Plantation, Timucuan Preserve - Ft. George Island, FL
* Kingsley Plantation - Timucuan Preserve - Jacksonville, FL
* Gulla-Geechee National Heritage Corridor - Kingsley Plantation

- RIBAULT CLUB - on Fort George Island was built in 1928 and is a monument to the resort era which followed the plantation era which concluded with end of the Civil War. EcoMotion Tours operates Segway tours of Kingsley Plantation or Dune Ridge Trail from this location.

- CEDAR POINT - is a 400-acre tract that lies on the south tip of Black Hammock Island.

It is not possible to see all units of Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve in one day. The preserve is best experienced in 2-3 days with visits to the individual sites and at least one hike or Segway tour.

There are many other things to see as you travel from one unit of the park to another. You will come upon such things as historical markers and St. George Episcopal Church, built 1882, which is a fine example of the Carpenter Gothic style and is located near the Ribault Club.

I toured all units, except Cedar Point. I found my visits to each unit rewarding for different reasons---some for history, some for culture, some for the beauty of the scene, some for pure enjoyment of the outdoors and nature, and some for multiple reasons.

18  Thank Maurene_K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2013

The Timucuan Preserve/Visitor Center is in combination with Fort Caroline National Park. The visitor center allows a person to learn the history and sad fate of the Timucuan Indians. Never had any idea this large tribe was spread so far and wide-and were wiped out by the influx of European settlers. The Preserve is a beautiful quiet piece of land directly on the St. Johns River, east of downtown Jacksonville, just west of where the River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Great place for hiking-worth the visit if you like history.

Thank HappyCamper32789
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2013

If you combine this with a visit to Fort Carolina it makes for a very interesting and informative afternoon. Although it was very humid when we visited it still was a great day for walking the trails.Our National Parks are true gems and should not be missed.

1  Thank gailmath
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 14, 2013

Amazing trails to walk/hike/jog along. Beautiful scenery & history to the place. Fell in love upon pulling into the parking lot. The visitor center is also a must see! Help support the preserve & learn about it's rich history.

1  Thank Shaundra S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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