Sunday, January 24, 2010

Castaway Island Preserve, Jacksonville, FL

One of the great things about living in Jacksonville is that there are so many great parks and recreation areas to get away without driving very far. Castaway Island Preserve is a beautiful nature preserve tucked away in the middle of neighborhoods off San Pablo Road, along the intracoastal waterway. This is a great place to take the kids for a nature walk or school field trips. There is an education center just across from the picnic area. The Island Trail is lined with animal tracks that you can identify to see which animal lives in this type of habitat. At the end of the trail of footprints is an information board that will tell you what kind of animal prints you have been following along with more detailed information about that particular animal. There are a few observation decks along the way that give a beautiful view of the marshlands, and benches to sit and rest or enjoy the view. This is a great place for birders to see many species of birds, such as hawks, osprey, egrets, storks, bald eagles, and many more. You can spend the day canoeing or kayaking along the intracoastal and get a close up view of the wildlife. After you've enjoyed the nature trails, enjoy a picnic at the shaded picnic tables. A note about this, there are no garbage cans at this park and that is noted at the entrance. They do provide you with trash bags through a dispenser, but it wouldn't hurt to bring one from home, just in case. Please, whatever you do, don't leave your trash. This park is definitely a gem, and we want to keep it that way.

NOTE: Castaway Island Preserve is part of the Preservation Project Jacksonville; a massive land conservation program instituted by former Mayor John Delaney in 1999. As a result of this program, Jacksonville now has the largest urban park system in the country.
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