The Vero Beach area along Florida's east coast is full of nature trails where hikers can get close with the area's wildlife. Many of these trails are surrounded by native plants and the footprints of animals of all sizes can be found in the dirt paths. Hiking at one of the trails in the Vero Beach area is a great way to spend an afternoon without having to spend a lot of money. This makes an afternoon of hiking with a picnic lunch an inexpensive way to enjoy the weekend.
Pelican Island's Centennial Trail
Pelican Island is a National Wildlife Refuge that was created by Teddy Roosevelt in 1903 as part of a new parks system with the goal of preserving the environment. This small island overlooks the Indian River Lagoon and is home to the brown pelican's breeding ground. The ¾-mile Centennial Trail is the shortest trail in the area and is also wheelchair accessible. The refuge is home to two other trails that each make a 2.5-mile loop through the area.
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is located just north of CR-501 along Highway A1A in Vero Beach. When traveling north on Highway A1A follow the signs to the Jungle Trail and turn into the parking area. For more information about the Centennial Trail and the Jungle Trail visit the website for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fort Drum Marsh
Covering more than 20,500 acres of Florida natural habitats, Fort Drum Marsh offers hikers a place to walk through orange groves, prairies and swamps all within a single trail. There are two trails -- the 1-mile Lake Trail and the 2-mile Hog Island Trail. Do not forget your camera when hiking through the Fort Drum trails because you will be able to see a variety of wildlife and a diverse amount of birds.
Fort Drum Marsh is located on SR-60 just east of Florida's Turnpike. Click here for more information about the trails at Fort Drum.
Environmental Learning Center
The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) offers a hands-on experience with nature, including plants, animals and sea life. The hiking trails will take you through a combination of dirt paths and a boardwalk, which will take you down to the Indian River Lagoon. While hiking you may be able to see bald eagles, egrets, manatees, raccoons and other wildlife native to the area.
Admission to the ELC is $5 for guests over 12 years of age, however, the first Saturday of each month is free to everyone. The ELC is located just off of CR-510 east of U.S. Highway 1. For more information call 772.589.5050 or visit DiscoverELC.org.
Indrio Savannahs Natural Area
Hikers will be able to enjoy the freshwater wetlands that are filled with migratory birds, such as ibis, dicks and coots when hiking through Indrio Savannahs Natural area. The trail through the area is 3.5 miles long. Hikers can enjoy a hike through the trail and spend the afternoon fishing or relaxing with a picnic.
Indrio Savannahs Natural Area is located between Fort Pierce and Vero Beach. To get to this area, take U.S. Highway 1 south to Tozour Road and turn left. Then take the first right and follow the road to the trail's entrance. For more information about this trail call the St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department at 772.462.2526 or visit the St. Lucie County website.
Hopefully these hiking location ideas will help you plan your next outing when visiting the Vero Beach area. I personally will be packing a picnic and heading out to one of these trails this weekend.