Unwrap the Gift of Nature with St. Lucie County’s Guided Hikes This December
- LUCIE COUNTY – St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department’s award-winning Guided Nature Program series returns this month with socially distanced in-person programs offered on weekdays, weekends and some evenings. This program is a fun and safe way to explore the local nature preserves. Each program presents a plethora of topics, including native animals and plants, local history, the health benefits of nature and an introduction to disc golf.
Topics for the December hikes include:
- Saturday, Dec. 4 from 8 to 10 a.m.: Annual Christmas Bird Count Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Counting birds and recording all our sightings, we’ll be submitting our results to the National Audubon Society for inclusion in the annual count – this is a public participation event.
Sunday, Dec. 5 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Life Along the River Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie. Human populations have interacted with the St. Lucie River for millennia. Spruce Bluff Preserve is home to archeological and historical sites. Walkthrough time on this journey to explore the relationship between people and the river, then and now.
- Saturday, Dec. 11 from 8 to 10 a.m.: Reading Animal Sign Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. The sandy trails of the Indrio Savannas are the perfect place to learn how to identify tracks. It is often difficult to observe wildlife species in their natural habitat. Learn the tricks that hunters, naturalists, and biologists use to track, monitor and gain information about these evasive animals.
Saturday, Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Florida’s Coastal Gems Hike at Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. Come enjoy this beautiful coastal hammock trail that leads to the Lagoon and learn about the preserve’s history and the importance of this coastal ecosystem. You will also learn about the Lagoon’s Aquatic Preserves, the spoil islands, and the challenging balance between recreation and protection of our coastal resources.
- Saturday, Dec. 11 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Leading the Pack Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. Did you know that coyotes can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties? Discover the mysterious and shy canine and its role in our Florida ecosystems while meandering through the pines and marshes of this beautiful preserve.
Sunday, Dec. 12 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Wander Amongst the Walking Trees at Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. Walk with us amongst Florida’s wild “Walking Trees.” Experience how water and land collide on this one-mile hike and see how the mangrove reigns majestically over the marsh. Learn how to identify Florida’s three mangrove species and discover the magic of the mangrove forest. It can get a tad muddy, so bring appropriate footwear to experience this special forest.
- Monday, Dec. 13 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Living Shorelines Kayak Trip at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. When protecting coastal properties, a living shoreline represents a natural alternative to hardscape seawalls and bulkheads to stabilize the shoreline and maintain valuable fish and wildlife habitat. We will explore examples of shorelines as we paddle 10-Mile Creek. Appropriate for ages 12 and older. Kayaks, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and paddles provided (you may also bring your equipment if desired). The cost is $15 per person; $10 if you bring your own kayak. No online registration; please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
Saturday, Dec. 18 from 7 to 8:30 a.m.: Otter Madness Hike at D.J. Wilcox Preserve, 300 Michigan St., Fort Pierce. Did you know that we have river otters here in our Florida rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes and swamps? Come learn about these social animals on this early morning walk around a scenic pond and out to the Indian River Lagoon.
- Saturday, Dec. 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Full Moon Night Hike at Indian Hills Recreation Area, 52 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce. Nighttime, quiet time. This star and moon-lit landscape and pond trail make for an otherworldly scene. Bring your curiosity to explore the upland, illuminated by the full moon while being serenaded by the night-time sounds of critters and the wind in the leaves.
Sunday, Dec. 19 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Stories of the Forest at Steve J. Fousek Preserve, 7793 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Travel back in time as you walk through old oaks, elms, and palms in this unique preserve. As you enjoy this scenic hike, you will learn about the geological and archeological history of the area and why it is such a special forest. This 1.5-mile loop will not disappoint with its towering trees, beautiful vegetation, and an array of wildlife.
- Sunday, Dec. 19 from 2 to 4 p.m.: Intro to Disc Golf Hike at Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. More than 37 million rounds of disc golf were played last year in the United States, according to UDisc – a company that tracks the sports. It’s considered to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Learn more about this growing outdoor activity. Participants will get an overview of the game, the different types of discs that are used and get the chance to play a few baskets with members of the Treasure Coast Disc Golf Club.
Sunday, Dec. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m.: Relaxing Holiday Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 7793 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Tired of your new toys? Ate too many cookies? Relatives on your nerves? A relaxing hike in a soothing nature preserve is the cure for all post-holiday problems.
- Friday, Dec. 31 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.: The Sun Sets on Another Year at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. End your year right with our New Year’s Eve sunset hike. We will focus on mindfulness, immersing ourselves in our surroundings with silent hiking time. We can also reflect on the past year and voice our wishes for the future. As the sun sets across the lake, we will take in the sights and sounds of nature while wrapping up 2021.
Programs are usually limited to 15 people helping to allow participants to immerse themselves into the county’s beautiful natural areas. Based on current best practices, and because we cannot guarantee safe social distancing at all times during our hikes or paddles, masks must be worn to participate in one of St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department’s Guided Nature Programs.
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.stluciepreserves.com.