Hike It: Juno Dunes Natural Area

Juno Dunes Natural Area - Juno Beach - Beach Dune HikeHit the trail for a little daytime hike and picnic at the northern portion of the Juno Dunes Natural Area. Straddling US 1 at Loggerhead Park (Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s domain) in Juno Beach, the 569-acre tract of land contains 12 native ecosystems on both the east (oceanfront tract) and west (west tract) of the street, each with their own unique nature trails.

   The 42-acre Oceanfront Tract, accessible from Loggerhead Park, contains the 1,800-foot Seagrape Nature Trail that winds through maritime hammock, scrub, scrubby flatwoods, coastal strand and beach dune ecosystems all the way down to the Atlantic, along both paved and sand trails. At the heart of the tract sits an observation post atop an ancient dune, giving hikers panoramic views of the ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west.

   Across the street from Loggerhead sits the northwestern most portion of the Juno Dunes Natural Area, and by far the most interesting hike of the nearly 5 total miles of the natural area’s trails. Sandwiched between the Intracoastal to the west, US 1 to the east, Donald Ross Road to the south and a small community to the north, the Sawgrass Nature Trail and Scrub Oak Hiking Trail tackle just over two miles, traversing through a dynamic grouping of ecosystems (scrub, scrubby flatwood, xeric hammock, basin and depression marshes, wet and mesic flatwoods, maritime and hydric hammocks, mangrove swamp and estuarine lagoon), giving visitors a unique view into what primordial Florida looked like.

   From the parking corral, trails are accessible for anyone, starting off paved, giving way to a wooden boardwalk. From there, things shift to sugar sand, so wear comfortable shoes. While hiking, be on the lookout for wildlife and unique flora. A prolific breeding ground for gopher tortoises, these little guys can be seen out and about the trails munching on love vine fruit, while the occasional grey fox may make an appearance, darting across the trail in a flash. Romantic Picnic - Juno Dunes Natural Area - Hiking and PicnicThe trees along the trail are truly one-of-a-kind, with dwarfed Chapman’s, myrtle and sand live oaks all taking root in the sandy soil, while increasingly rare sand pines stand as sentinels.

   For a romantic outing for two, pack a picnic and hit the trail. At the western end of the trail sits a two-story observatory giving visitors a chance to take in the sites along the Intracoastal (about 1 mile). Continue from there and thou shall be rewarded: carved from the Intracoastal sits a mangrove-fringed lagoon complete with floating docks (six boat slips) and a shaded picnic tables. Secluded and quiet, this is the perfect place to escape from civilization for a little adventure.

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