The Robert W. Loftin Nature Trails are a favorite destination for people who enjoy hiking and jogging. They wind through a densely wooded 500 acres near the University of North Florida and offer some of the most beautiful views in the area. Here are some of the amazing sights you will see when you explore this Jacksonville treasure.
Though this area features many swampy, wetland habitats, you’ll find a deep swamp on Blueberry Trail, which winds around Lake Oneida and through pine flatwoods. If you go at the right time of year, you’ll also see all the berries alongside the path for which it was named.
This preserve covers 300 acres of wetland habitat, as well as a few areas of longleaf pine-turkey oak woodlands. The preserve’s mission is to keep this habitat safe and operating as it was designed, by nature, to do. You’ll find plenty of wildlife and interesting local plants here, and it’s the perfect place for a quiet hike.
Sandhills & Tortoise Burrows
Along the Gopher Tortoise Ridge Trail, you’ll find sandhills, longleaf pine, and turkey oak. This area is home to the gopher tortoise – you’ll see their burrows all along the trail, and perhaps even a tortoise strolling along. These creatures live for 60 years and their burrows provide homes for all kinds of other wildlife including amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals.
A 500-Year-Old Cypress
Though most of the old-growth cypress trees were logged out a long time ago (you’ll see their stumps everywhere), there are a few still standing, including a “grandfather” on the Big Cypress Trail, who is estimated to be at least 500 years old. You’ll get a glimpse into the past by observing this ancient creature, who remembers a time when this area was dominated by cypress trees that were as big as sequoias.
Red Maple Boardwalk
This little boardwalk trail isn’t quite a mile long, but it’s filled with interpretive signs and is a great place to start your journey. You’ll learn about the local flora and fauna, and enjoy some great views while taking a leisurely stroll. It was fully restored in 2017, so it’s in impeccable shape and it makes a scenic loop around Lake Oneida.
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