SEPTEMBER PARK OF THE MONTH
Castaway Island Preserve is truly a neighborhood “pocket park” that’s chocked full of easy access trails, intracoastal scenic overlooks and a beautiful butterfly garden. Consisting of 235 acres, this park is a wonderful mix of upland scrub, which is an important habitat for many birds and other wildlife with breathtaking views of the marsh and intracoastal waterway. It boasts 10 overlooks throughout the park providing incredible views. The butterfly garden at the entrance of the park is routinely rehabilitated by the students of DePaul School of Northeast Florida, with the help of the Florida Master Gardeners, City of Jacksonville JaxParks and Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation (TTPF). It’s a hidden gem that is the perfect “getaway” from life’s hustle and bustle!
Activities at Castaway include hiking, biking, bird and wildlife watching, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and picnicking.
There are ample parking, a restroom, picnic tables with grills at the nature center, trail kiosks, and a floating dock for kayaks/canoes. A bike trail runs from the entrance connecting to a greater network of bike trails to the restrooms/nature center complex. Pets allowed on a 6’ leash. Wheelchair accessible throughout the park.
Advice: After checking the tide to make sure you’ll have plenty of water, come to Castaway in time to first walk through the fabulous marked trail (great for kids!) including the breathtaking overlooks out on the marsh. Take time to read the kiosks that tell the history of the Preserve, the Preservation Project and the Intracoastal Waterway. Then launch your kayak and paddle around the circular marsh waterways which are protected paddle areas right next to the Intracoastal. There are fun places to eat nearby so grab a bite after a full day of adventure. Truly this is one of the “special places” of Northeast Florida. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat are recommended. Remember binoculars for wildlife viewing and a camera to capture those memorable moments.
Location: 2921 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville (between Atlantic Blvd and Beach Blvd)
Fee: No entrance fee.
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset