Because so much of the Jacksonville area was developed early in the state’s history, there isn’t much protected land remaining. An exception is 2,500-acre Little Talbot Island State Park, with 5 miles of wide, sandy beach. The island is bordered by the Fort George River, the Atlantic Ocean, and Nassau Sound, the only inlet in northeast Florida that remains unaltered. It features two trails and a pristine 5-mile-long beach walk. Many short walks lead off from State Road A1A in this area. Nearby Big Talbot Island also has some short trails.
The main hiking trail, a 4.4-mile loop, goes through the island to the northern end and then returns along the beach, traversing eight distinct habitats along the way. Register at the entrance station before hiking. On this walk you’ll see that the mostly undisturbed salt marshes facing the mainland offer a good area for nature study. River otters, bobcats, and marsh rabbits all live on Little Talbot. The protected inner dune swales at the southern end of the island, with their cabbage palms, slash pines, and pond willows, are good places to watch for migrating birds feeding in spring and fall. The maritime forest of live oak, southern magnolia, and American holly is perhaps the lushest part of the island.
© 2009 M. Timothy O'Keefe/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.