FORT PIERCE, Fla. — St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department staff wants visitors and residents to experience our natural beauty thanks to its award-winning guided hikes program. These free nature programs allow hikers to explore the county’s more than 10,000 acres of preserves, while learning about the history and wildlife that reside there.
Hikes for March include:
- Monday, March 2 from10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: The Indian River Lagoon – An Invaluable Resource – Kayak Tour at D.J. Wilcox to Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 300 Michigan St., Fort Pierce. Enjoy a rigorous paddle along the banks of the Indian River Lagoon and across to one of St. Lucie’s many spoil islands. Learn about the special species that make this place home and why it’s worth the effort to save. Bring plenty of water and a picnic lunch for the island. Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and paddles provided (you may also bring your own 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.
- Wednesday, March 4 from noon to 2:30 p.m.: Take a Break Kayak Tour at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Take a break mid-week with a relaxing paddle on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. Enjoy the peace of our local aquatic preserve while learning to identify wildlife, trees and flowers along the way. Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, U.S Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and paddles provided (you may also bring your own 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, March 7 from 8 to 10 a.m.: Florida’s Ancient Dunes Hike at Walton Scrub Preserve, 10809 Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce. Explore Florida’s geologic past and gain a better understanding of our imperiled and ancient scrub ecosystem. Experience the flora and fauna that are uniquely adapted and living along Florida’s remnant ridges.
- Saturday, March 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Fireflies and Bioluminescence Night Hike at Steven J. Fousek 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 twilight hours of the early evening. Experience nature’s own twinkling lights in the air and on the ground.
- Wednesday, March 11 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.: Shifting Sands Kayak Tour at Queen’s Island Riverside Preserve, 5653 A1A, Fort Pierce. Discover the hidden “inside passage” paddling trail in the Indian River Lagoon.We’ll paddle a serene, quiet, little-used waterway that is just a stone’s throw away from A1A.We’ll venture south of the Jack Island foot bridge and back as we search for the original Indian River Lagoon inlet.Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and paddles provided (you may also bring your own 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, March 14 from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.: In Search of the “Red Head” Hike at Bluefield Ranch Preserve, 30501 Bluefield Ranch Road, Port St. Lucie. The Red-headed Woodpecker and other birds thriving in expansive pine prairies and woodlands are getting harder to find. This “red-head” stronghold in St. Lucie County offers a chance to spy the almost metallic, crimson head of this woodpecker plus other woodland birds and seasonal wildflowers inhabiting this unique habitat.
- Saturday, March 14 from 4 to 6 p.m.: Resolutions Fitness Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Remember those resolutions about getting in shape this year?Keep up all your great fitness goals on this two-mile scenic hike – a great way to wrap up your day.
- Sunday, March 15 from from 8 to 9:30 a.m.: Fitness Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 SE Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie. Enjoy the outdoors and get in shape at the same time by joining us on this moderately-paced fitness hike along the north and south trails of this hidden preserve. Participants should anticipate hiking approximately 2.75 miles.
- Tuesday, March 17 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.: Sunset Coastal Discovery Walk at Ocean Bay Beachside, 7600 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach. Secluded beaches, golden sunsets and a cool ocean breeze are the perfect way to end the day. Before the sun sets, walk with us as we discover how these beaches protect us from major storm events and what wildlife exists just offshore. Finish the evening sitting along the water’s edge watching as the coastal environment transforms into night. Take a deep breath as you enjoy the last rays of light and celebrate the completion of another day.
- Wednesday, March 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Spring Break Family Hike at Ancient Oaks Preserve, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. Hiking with your family can be a wonderful bonding experience. Start hiking with some basic knowledge of how to hike safely and ethically in Florida’s ever-changing weather and what to do if or when you encounter the Preserve’s many interesting critters. Along the way, we will learn about some of the native plants on site including which ones to avoid. All are welcome, but this hike is most appropriate for families with children ages 5 and older. An adult must accompany all minors.
- Friday, March 20 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Ethnobotany Hike at Ten Mile Creek Preserve, 3401 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. Journey through this preserve filled with botanical wonders to discover how people throughout the area’s early history up until modern times have used various plants for their survival. Learn how different herbs, roots, flowering plants, grasses and trees helped to create shelter, tools, food and medicine for all.
- Saturday, March 21 from 8 to 11 a.m.: Turkey Love Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Love is in the air…if you’re a turkey, that is. Spring is mating season for Florida turkeys and that provides an excellent opportunity for us to see and hear them as they look for love on the prairies of Hackberry Hammock.
- Sunday, March 22 from 8:30 to 10 a.m.: Air Plants & Epiphytes Hike at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Florida is home to a myriad of ferns, bromeliads and orchids that live attached to tree branches, sometimes high in the canopy. No soil required. Enjoy a short walk and get to know a few of these botanical wonders.
- Thursday, March 26 from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Morning Hike for Birders at Jones Hammock/Platt’s Creek Preserves, 2002 Bell Ave., Fort Pierce. It’s an all-avian hike along a secluded wetland and river. Birders be sure to bring binoculars, scopes, field guides and checklists. This preserve, adjacent to the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, boasts rich resident and migratory birdlife that are attracted to the river’s bountiful food supply. This hike is sure to impress any avid birder.
- Saturday, March 28 from 8 to 10 a.m.: Leave Nothing but Footprints Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 SE Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie. The combined effects of different outdoor recreationists can cause damage to protected lands if the proper etiquette is not followed. On this hike, we’ll practice the principles of Leave No Trace that all nature enthusiasts should know.
- Sunday, March 29 from 6:30 to 8 a.m.: Relaxing Sunrise Hike at D.J. Wilcox Preserve, 300 Michigan St., Fort Pierce. Experience a leisurely walk along the lagoon as the sun rises and diurnal critters wake up around us. There is no better way to start the day than to watch a peaceful sunrise along a beautiful lagoon vista.
- Sunday, March 29 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Exploring Nature Safely Hike at Donald B. Moore Preserve, 605 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. Greet the warming weather with some good basic knowledge of how to hike safely and ethically in Florida’s ever-changing weather and what to do if or when you encounter the Preserve’s many interesting critters. Along the way, we will learn about some of the native plants on site including which ones to avoid.
- Monday, March 30 from 8:30 to 11 a.m.: Learning to Bird Family Program & Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Do you or your little ones like watching birds? Ever wanted to learn more about their incredibly cool adaptations? Here is your chance to study the birds during the hike and do some fun hands-on activities. Be sure to bring your binoculars if you have them. All are welcome but this hike is most appropriate for families with children ages 5 and older. An adult must accompany all minors.
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.stluciepreserves.com.
–S.t Lucie County