On the River – Jan. 2014

If your new year’s resolution is to get fit, let the St. Johns River help. This year, incorporate Florida’s natural beauty into your fitness plan, and explore some of the great parks and scenic vistas. It takes the edge off of a long run and provides needed scenery during what could otherwise be a grueling fitness regime. Here are some suggestions to make your workout fun, where you can exercise in Florida bliss.
Run/Walk – Northbank Riverwalk
The Northbank Riverwalk in downtown Jacksonville provides the best 2.5-mile running course Jacksonville has to offer. Meet with some friends at the Yates YMCA for a stretch, and take off towards the Acosta Bridge. There are multiple routes, but you’ll want to enjoy the views and that perfect moment at the peak of both the Main Street Bridge and the Acosta Bridge. Lengthen your run along the riverwalk towards the stadium and count how many dolphins are following your journey in the St. Johns River. Learn more about northeast Florida running spots: www.1stplacesports.com/bestrun.html
Biking – Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park
Protecting over 500 acres along the Ortega River is Tillie Fowler Park. With 5 different biking trails at varying levels of difficulty and length, Tille has become the best place to bike in Jax. Thanks to Sorba Jax, a southern off-road bicycling association and others helping to maintain the trails, extended lengths are being developed and signs are being added for safety and guidance. As the largest park in Jacksonville, huge swaths of protected floodplain forest and pine flatwoods across from Jacksonville Naval Air Station make a great fitness retreat. Reward yourself with a pint at Murray’s Tavern when you finish the trail, and this could be a workout you stick with. Learn more about northeast Florida biking trails: www.sorbajax.org/
Paddle – Julington Durbin Creek Preserve
The area where Durbin Creek meets Julington Creek is a great paddling destination for those wanting to work on arm strength and upper body cardio. This paddle can be as easy or as challenging as you make it – but allow for some scenic vista moments in this unique area. Portions of Julington Creek can feel almost prehistoric. Giant cypress trees line the banks and wildlife including bald eagles, ospreys, gopher tortoises, bobcats, turkeys, deer and manatee have all been spotted during paddles in the area. If you don’t have easy access to a kayak or canoe, or you want a guided trip instead of self-exploration, visit First Coast Outfitters www.firstcoastoutfitters.com or Black Creek Outfitters www.blackcreekoutfitters.com for more information. Learn more about northeast Florida paddling trips: www.floridapaddlingtrails.com