Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens

This is one of the most recent nature preserves opened in Jacksonville and it's a real gem. It has become one of my favorite places to walk. You can enjoy walking one of the nature trails and view plenty of wildlife. There is the Ravine Trail which loops around a large ravine and intersects with the Jones Creek Trail (my favorite), which runs along a creek that winds its way through the woods. You can stop along the way and sit on one of the benches placed near the creek and enjoy the view and listen to the sounds of the flowing stream. You can take the Lake Loop around Lake Ray, named for Councilman (now Representative) Lake Ray, who pushed for funding for the preserve. If you enjoy bird watching, there is plenty to see. During several different visits, I've spotted a great blue heron, egrets, cormorants, ducks, an anhinga, and a barred owl. There are of course many other varieties of birds such as robins, wrens, chickadees, grackles, blue jays and cardinals. If you get there early enough you could have a close encounter with opossums or maybe a raccoon; I don't know who was more startled one morning as I came upon a raccoon who quickly darted across the creek and off into the woods. There is also the Live Oak Trail, appropriately named for all the large, stately live oak trees draped in spanish moss. With spring approaching, the red buds are blooming, wild azaleas, beauty berries, atamaso lily and other types of flora will soon provide for beautiful color throughout the arboretum.

The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens can only get better as the city and volunteers continue to work towards making this a first class nature preserve, recreational and educational facility. There are plans for a butterfly and hummingbird garden, a picnic area, visitor center, amphitheater and more. You can visit their website for events and activities and check out their
master plan at

1 comment:

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