See What’s Blooming on St. Lucie County’s Preserves
Connect with nature as St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department offers free guided hikes this March. These educational tours give participants an opportunity to learn about native habitats and wildlife.
These programs are free, open to the public, and reservations are required as space is limited.
Hikes for March include:
Friday, March 3 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Scrub Stroll Hike at Walton Scrub Preserve, 10809 South Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce. Start your weekend in a remarkable place: A coastal upland environment just yards from the Indian River Lagoon. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll in the sandy ecosystem, learning about its native plants and animals, as well as exotics which have moved into the park as from surrounding locales. We will explore scrub oak species, seasonal wildflowers and animal life inhabiting this dry, otherworldly environment so near the life-giving waters of the lagoon.
Saturday, March 4 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Floodplain Forest Hike at Citrus Hammock Preserve, 6511 Citrus Ave., Fort Pierce. Citrus Hammock Preserve is one of the county’s newest preserves. Participants will meander along the half-mile trail through the forest eventually winding their way past moss covered large oaks and ancient slash pines trees to get a glimpse of a historic floodplain that once commonly ran alongside the North Fork of the St. Lucie River.
Thursday, March 9 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Take a Lichen to this Place Hike at 10-Mile Creek Preserve, 3401 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. Hidden in the forest lies some very interesting organisms that are found in abundance amongst the trees throughout this preserve. Participants will hike the “hilly” trail along the creek, learn how to identify different air plants and lichens while discovering some of their amazing adaptations for survival.
Friday, March 10 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.:
Spring Full Moon Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. With spring just around the corner, this is a great time to look, listen and feel the changes in the air during this nighttime adventure. We will be looking for the animals and birds who are adapted wonder in the cover of night. This is rare opportunity to use the moonlight illuminate who is out and about after dark.
Saturday, March 11 from 9 to 11 a.m.:
Bird Prowl Hike at the Oxbow Eco-Center 5400 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie. This preserve has a little of everything: Uplands, canal marshes, and riparian bottomlands. We’ll be heading to the aquatic areas to spy on bird populations inhabiting these areas. Why do birds stay near water? Which birds live along the canal, and which birds live on the riverbank? We’ll look for clues to understand where and why birds live within the preserve.
Saturday, March 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.:
Nocturnal Neighbors Night Hike, Part 4 at Steven J. Fousek/Teague Hammock Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Fireflies have enchanted humans since the beginning of time, and this is the season to enjoy their flashes of light in the fading light of evening and into the night. Enjoy a nocturnal romp to discover fireflies, night-flying birds, and all manner of night-time creature and critter.
Sunday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m.:
Sunset Nature Photography Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Bring your camera or smartphone to take part in this 1.25-mile guided nature photography hike. We’ll start by hiking the trails and finish by overlooking the lake at sunset. As we explore this upland habitat, we’ll discuss composition and technical aspects of photography as well as species we encounter along our way.
Thursday, March 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.:
Spring Break Leisurely Stroll Hike at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. This riverside preserve boasts butterflies, anoles, birds, rabbits and all manner of seasonal wildflowers and native plants. A flat, wide trail affords an “easy-does-it” excursion suitable for elders and families with young children to enjoy the outdoors and explore a riparian habitat in the shade of trees in a remnant hammock to experience a little slice of the “Old Florida.” Appropriate for all ages and all minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Saturday, March 18 from 6:45 to 9 a.m. to noon:
Early Bird Hike at Pinelands Preserve, 7601 VPI Grove Road, Port St. Lucie. Spring is mating season for the Florida Wild Turkey (also called Osceola) and early morning is the best time to find them. Wake up early for a morning hike in the pine flatwoods and a chance to use various calls to locate turkeys.
Tuesday, March 21 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.:
Soaring Kites Hike at Jones Hammock Preserve, Bell Avenue, Fort Pierce. Watch as the endangered Snail Kite soars above this preserve in search for its favorite food, apple snails. Participants will learn about the unique adaptions of both the Snail Kite and the Florida apple snail, as well the conservation issues facing both species as you hike through the peaceful wetland restoration. Be sure to bring your binoculars for some great bird watching opportunities.
Wednesday, March 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
Adventure into the River’s Hidden Oxbows Kayak Excursion at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Explore the history and beauty of the North Fork of the St. Lucie River through the hidden oxbows that were once part of the River’s historical flow-ways. Be sure to bring your lunch for a scenic picnic along the water’s edge. Details will be provided to registered participants prior to the scheduled date. Kayaks, U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices, and paddles provided (you may also provide your own equipment if desired). The cost is $10 per person. No online registration, please call 772-462-2526 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
Saturday, March 25 from 7 to 9 p.m.:
Black-Light Night Hike at St. Lucie Village Heritage Park, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. Every preserve has a myriad of critters that are affected differently by light, join us to see which ones stand out at St. Lucie Village Heritage Park. We’ll watch and listen for owls, nighthawks, and all manner of plants and smaller critters with interesting night-time colors under a naturalist’s black-light. Learn about how wavelengths of light have the power to render a plant or animal’s exterior different colors, and how nature can “change clothing” between day and night.
Sunday, March 26 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.:
Native Landscaping Hike at Indian Hills Recreation Area and Preserve, 52 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce. Take part in this short, half mile walk as we discuss the benefits of native landscaping at one of the county’s newest preserves. We’ll also discuss building backyard habitats. Expect to see a bountiful aquatic habitat surrounded by native plants, and wildlife sightings such as birds and even alligators. This unique preserve is managed in partnership between the City of Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County.
For more information
and to find the link for registration, please visit www.slchikes.org, call 772-462-2526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programs are usually limited to 15 people helping to allow participants to immerse themselves into the county’s beautiful natural areas. Programs target ages 12 and older unless otherwise noted. All minors must be accompanied by an adult. Proper footwear and water are required for all programs, and please leave pets at home.
Purchased through a voter-approved bond referendum, St. Lucie County manages more than two dozen preserves that are open to the public for passive recreation.
For more information about St. Lucie County’s Environmentally Significant Lands visit: www.stlucieco.gov/erd.
For a list of all St. Lucie County parks and preserves visit the interactive map at http://gis.stlucieco.gov/parkspreserves.