5 Outdoor Activities for Ultimate Adventure Seekers

February 24, 2021

Nature lovers will delight in these immersive, off-the-beaten-path experiences in The Palm Beaches.

The Palm Beaches has a long legacy of welcoming travelers to its sun-drenched beaches and elegant resorts, but it’s also home to a hidden wild side that’s waiting to be discovered.

1. Bike Jeaga Wildways from Jupiter to Palm Beach Gardens

Biking Jaega Wildways

Jeaga Wildways, a system of four multi-use trails, connects 160,000 acres of public lands in northwestern Palm Beach County. The trails allow hikers, cyclists and equestrians to traverse some of the area’s most scenic natural beauty. The hub of Jeaga Wildways is Riverbend Park in Jupiter. From the park, explorers can head south on the Bluegill Trail through Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area to Karen T. Marcus Sandhill Crane Access Park in Palm Beach Gardens. This 7.4-mile ride (about 15 miles round trip) features views of cypress trees and freshwater wetlands teeming with bird life – everything from roseate spoonbills and white ibis to snail kites and red-shouldered hawks. Restroom facilities and an observation platform at Karen T. Marcus Sandhill Crane Access Park offer bicyclists a chance to refresh themselves before the ride back to Riverbend Park.

2. Hike through pines, prairies and cypress trees at Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area

Observation tower at Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area

For those who want to lace up their hiking boots and spend several hours exploring a South Florida wilderness, check out Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area in Palm Beach Gardens. The Palm Beaches’ largest natural area, at more than 12,000 acres, protects wet prairie, freshwater marsh, slash pine flatwoods and cypress swamp habitats. You can access these natural wonders from public-use facilities on Beeline Highway just north of PGA Blvd. Hikers can travel along a 5-mile loop that begins on a paved walkway and transitions between dirt hiking trails and crushed rock maintenance roads. Highlights along the route include a wetland observation platform at the end of the paved walkway and an observation tower 1.4 miles into the hike that both offer spectacular views. From the tower, hikers travel a 1.63-mile portion of the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail before coming back to the parking lot along two marked hiking trails. Be aware that portions of the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail may be under water. A map of the trails can be found at the information kiosk in the parking lot, online at pbcnaturalareas.com or on your smartphone. Access maps offline by downloading the free Avenza Maps app and searching for Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area.

3. Go trail running on ancient sand dunes at Jupiter Ridge Natural Area

Trail running at Jupiter Ridge Natural Area

If running the flat-as-a-pancake trails found at most parks in South Florida is just too easy, try huffing and puffing your way up and down ancient sand dunes at Jupiter Ridge Natural Area. This 270-acre natural area protects endangered Florida scrub habitat that’s home to sand pines, prickly pear cactus and gopher tortoises. Highlights of the 1.7-mile south trail loop include a view of Ski Beach along the Loxahatchee River-Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserve, an active osprey nest and a climb to one of the highest natural elevation points in The Palm Beaches. If that’s not enough distance for you, add in a run along the 0.6-mile north trail loop that passes by a mangrove habitat restoration project area and observation platform. The entrance to Jupiter Ridge Natural Area is on the west side of U.S. Highway 1 just south of Indiantown Road. A map of the trails can be found at the information kiosk in the parking lot or right on your phone by visiting pbcnaturalareas.com.

4. Paddle the wetlands at Winding Waters Natural Area

Kayaking at Winding Waters Natural Area

Did you know that there is a 3.3-mile paddling trail through freshwater wetlands roughly 5 miles west of downtown West Palm Beach? The 548-acre Winding Waters Natural Area, along Haverhill Road just north of 45th Street, features an 165-acre marsh that was not there when the county purchased the property. Department of Environmental Resources Management staff spent several years restoring the property. The work included removing canals running within the site, excavating the marsh and constructing three water control structures. The effort paid off, and Winding Waters Natural Area is now a West Palm Beach natural oasis. Paddlers can put in their canoes or kayaks at the launch area in the parking lot on Dyer Blvd. The 3.3-mile trail follows the perimeter of the wetlands and allows for an up close view of birds, alligators, fish and turtles.

5. See birds of all shapes and sizes at Pine Glades Natural Area

Roseate spoonbill at Pine Glades Natural Area

The 6,651-acre Pine Glades Natural Area is a birding hot spot. Located in Jupiter along Indiantown Road roughly 7 miles west of Florida’s Turnpike, the natural area protects slash pine woods, cypress swamps and freshwater marshes. This combination of trees to shelter in and waters to forage in attracts a wide variety of wildlife. If a bird forages for food in wetlands, you will probably find it at Pine Glades. Keep an eye out for roseate spoonbills, egrets, herons, Florida sandhill cranes, snail kites, ospreys and more. There are more than 6 miles of trails for birders to explore as they hunt for a glimpse of The Palm Beaches’ feathered residents, so grab your binoculars and come out to Pine Glades to watch this avian airshow. Be aware that portions of the hiking trails may be under water.  A map of the trails can be found at the information kiosk in the parking lot, online at pbcnaturalareas.com or on your smartphone. Access maps offline by downloading the free Avenza Maps app and searching for Pine Glades Natural Area.

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