FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Fall in love with the great outdoors thanks to the St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department’s award-winning guided hikes program. These free nature program’s 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 February include:
- Saturday, Feb. 1 from 8 to 9:30 a.m.: Historic Tree Hike at Citrus Hammock Preserve, 6511 SE Citrus Ave., Fort Pierce. Majestic giants among us, Florida’s mature trees give us historic perspective when it comes to both natural and human history. The “Three Sisters,” Slash Pines standing firm and tall through changes around them, will be our focus as we stroll through one of the county’s newer preserves featuring a small pond, a nature trail and small meadow area.
- Wednesday, Feb. 5 from 9to 11 a.m.: People & the Land Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 SE Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie. Learn how the earliest people and settlers in Florida utilized the abundant flora and fauna to build shelter, find food and make clothing as we hike through a variety of habitats on our way to an ancient Indian Mound.
- Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.: Morning River Paddle at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Explore the upper reaches of the North Fork on this morning paddling excursion. Watch as the world wakes up along the banks of the beautiful St. Lucie River. Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices, and paddles provided (you may also bring your own equipment if desired). The cost is $15 per person. No online registration, please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
- Saturday, Feb. 8 from noon to 2:30 p.m.: Afternoon River Paddle at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Join us for a relaxing paddle along the North Fork of the St Lucie River. We’ll focus on Water Management 101 and how the North Fork and our St. Lucie County preserves contribute to the water management system of Southeast Florida. 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.No online registration, please call 772- 462-2536 to reserve your space. Reservations a must.
- Saturday, Feb. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m.: Full Moon Night Hike at Steven J. Fousek Natural Area, 7601 VPI Grove Road, Port St. Lucie. Moonlight, critters and woods, oh my. We’ll be looking for and listening to wildlife at dusk as the daylight transitions to the night.The “changing of the guard” from daytime to nighttime brings a host of changes to the preserves in terms of which creatures are active and gives us extraordinary moonlit viewing opportunities.
- Sunday, Feb. 9 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Indian River Lagoon Hike at Queen’s Island Beachside Preserve. 4665 A1A, North Hutchinson Island. The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most biodiverse estuaries in the world. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in this sandy coastal upland habitat just yards from the Indian River Lagoon and discover the richness that this unique system offers.
- Monday, Feb. 10 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Don’t Tread on Me Hike at Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. Having the right “tools” can help you to interact with conservation green spaces responsibly. Unknowingly, the combined activities of outdoor recreationists can negatively impact protected lands if proper etiquette is not observed. Learn about the principals of Leave No Trace, something that all nature enthusiasts should know and pass on to our future land stewards.
- Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 5 to 6 p.m.: Moving Meditation Series (Trail Run) at Oxbow Eco-Center Preserve, 5400 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie. Who says meditation has to be done while sitting? Our moving meditation trail run gives you the opportunity to disconnect from the worries of everyday life while leading an active lifestyle in the outdoors. This activity is perfect for anyone who is capable of running at least one mile. And don’t worry, this is not a race. All levels welcomed on this one mile run and cool down hike.
- Wednesday, Feb. 12 from noon to 2:30 p.m.: Wild Waterways Paddle at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Join us for apaddle along the North Fork of the St Lucie River. We’ll discuss the historic actions that changed and tamed our waterways, the impact of development, and–more importantly–the efforts to bring some of them back to their natural state. We’ll paddle past one of the county’s natural water treatment areas to get an up close look at how conservation and preservation efforts impact and enhance our waterways.Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and paddles provided (you may also bring your own equipment if desired). The cost is $15 per person. No online registration, please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
- Saturday, Feb. 15 from 7 to 10 a.m.: “Back 40” Endurance Hike at George Lestrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Just yards from the St. Lucie River lies a cool ecosystem that hosts specialized native plants and animals, but this area is also threatened by invasive and exotic species. As we explore, we will discuss the impacts of invasive species and look for several native scrub oaks, seasonal wildflowers and animals found within this dry and sandy land that is so near the life-giving waters of the river.
- Saturday, Feb. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m.: Sunset Scrub Hike at Bluefield Ranch Preserve,30501 Bluefield Ranch Road, Fort Pierce. Take in the beautiful hues of the setting sun, scenic vistas and wide-open skies surrounding Bluefield’s unique scrub habitat as the day comes to a close on this hike.
- Sunday, Feb. 16 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: What Makes an Invasive Species Plant Hike at Ancient Oaks Preserve/Weldon B. Lewis Park, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. It’s confusing – are “invasive” and “exotic” the same term? What makes an organism native or non-native? Are there other categories? Join us for a hike through a transitioning habitat to learn about Florida’s native plants and other species we commonly see which are not. Expect some surprise discoveries.
- Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.: Habitat Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. We will visit as many sections of this preserve as time allows and learn about the many plants and animals that make their home here. Expect to see a long list of bird species as well as many wonderful flowering plants. Be sure to bring your binoculars.
- Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.: To the Bat Bridge! Paddle at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. We’ll head downriver to the 25th Street bridge to spy some of our furry flying friends.It may be too early to see them but we’ll definitely hear them before enjoying a leisurely paddle back. 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.No online registration, please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
- Friday/Saturday, Feb. 21-22 from 3 p.m. to 11:00 am: Backpacking 101 (Overnight) at Bluefield Ranch Preserve, 30501 Bluefield Ranch Road, Port St. Lucie. Looking to meet new friends and be immersed in nature while learning a new skill? Join us as we venture through Bluefield Ranch for an overnight intro to backpacking experience. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about backpacking as well as tips and tricks to plan your own adventure. No experience is necessary, however, participants will be required to have basic camping gear (backpack, tent, sleeping bag) and to carry their own gear for roughly 3-5 miles. This program is free, however there is no online registration, please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. Space is limited. Reservations are a must.
- Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Phone Photography Hike at Indrio Scrub Preserve, 4100 Old Dixie Highway, Fort Pierce. Smartphones have made us the most photographed generations in history.Get the most out of the camera you carry every day by trying all of its features on this hike.
- Sunday, Feb. 23 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Wrack-line and Shell Hike at Herman’s Bay Beachside, 7880 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach. Walk the wrack-line in search of strange and wonderful things that the changing tides have washed ashore. The beach is a wonderful place to experience some of Nature’s most beautiful and fascinating masterpieces. Discover how shells are made, what creatures utilize them, and much more on this fun beachcombing excursion.
- Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m.: Twilight Kayaking at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Glide gently through the water as we enjoy a flatwater paddle during Florida’s infamous “golden hour.” Take a moment to watch as the sky blends a series of red, yellow and pink hues. As the sun sets, listen for the chorus of the frogs to come alive that will be our cue to paddle back. No experience necessary.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.No online registration, please call 772-462-2536 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
- Friday, Feb. 28 from 8 to 9:30 a.m.: Welcome to Florida Hike at Ten Mile Creek Preserve, 3401 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. Whether you’re new to the area or just visiting, this hike is for you.This small preserve shows just how different Florida can be from everywhere else.Learn about habitats, restoration, archaeology, plants and wildlife found along the headwaters of the St. Lucie River.
- Saturday, Feb. 29 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Leave No Trace Leap Year Hike at Ancient Oaks Preserve, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. Ring in the “Leap Year” on a fun hike learning how to master the art of leaving no trace.By looking at the intentional and unintentional changes human beings have made to the preserve, we truly learn how to leave nothing but footprints.
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 progra.m.ps 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.
–St. Lucie County