Spring is the best time to explore Florida’s natural areas and St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department offers free guided hikes to help you find your way in the woods. These free programs cover a range of habits and topics from night hikes and walking through wetlands to standup paddling boarding and kayaking trips. 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. Topics for the March include:
Friday, March 5 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Welcome to the Weekend Hike at Indian Hills Recreation Area, 52 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce. After a stressful week, a refreshing hike in nature to recharge and rejuvenate is the perfect prescription. This is a “fresh air & scenic views” hike, with emphasis on enjoying some of the benefits of St. Lucie County’s greenways, wildlife and gorgeous landscapes.
Friday, March 5 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Friday Wind Down Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. This hike is a wind down from the week as we make our way past the marshes and through the pines enjoying the afternoon light. We will discuss the wildlife in the preserve and the important conservation efforts to help maintain sustainable populations.
Saturday, March 6 from 7 to 8:30 a.m.: Dawn Chorus Birdsong Stroll at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Enjoy the rising sun while being serenaded by the “dawn chorus,” courtesy of the area’s resident and migrant bird species. Seasonal flowers and pollinator activity are ideal during the morning’s milder temperatures.
Saturday, March 6 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Florida’s Diamondback Terrapins at Donald B. Moore Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. As one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in the U.S., the Indian River Lagoon is home to many different species. One particular species, the diamondback terrapin, has a unique story intertwined with Florida’s history and culture. Enjoy this beautiful coastal preserve that leads to the lagoon while learning about this beautiful and elusive turtle.
Saturday, March 6 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Evening Chorus Birdsong Stroll at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Why do birds sing? Learn the reasons why birds make these special vocalizations. It’s an opportunity to hear the melodic songs of resident and migratory bird species along the St. Lucie River banks.
Sunday, March 7 from 7 to 8 a.m.: Sunrise Short Hike at Indrio Scrub Preserve, 5187 Old Dixie Hwy, Fort Pierce. Start your day off right: A hidden gem with a half-mile trail provides a leisurely walk, scrubby upland plant life, butterflies and tracks in the sand—a perfect “wild” start to any Sunday.
Monday, March 8 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.: Intro to Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Do you love being on the water? Stand-up paddle boarding provides paddlers with a unique perspective into the water while also providing a wonderful outlet for exercising. Our expert guide will walk you through the steps to learn how to stand up paddleboard. No experience necessary. Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Stand-up paddleboards, 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 772-462-2526 to reserve your space. Reservations required.
Saturday, March 13 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: The Stories of a Forest Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 7793 State Hwy 613, Port St. Lucie. Travel back in time as you walk through ancient oaks, elms and palms in this unique preserve. As you enjoy this beautiful hike, you will learn about the area’s geological and archaeological history and why it is such a unique forest. This 1.5-mile loop will not disappoint with its towering trees, beautiful vegetation and an array of wildlife.
Saturday, March 13 from 7 to 9 p.m.: Ultraviolet Night Hike at Gordy Road Recreation Area, 3650 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. Plants and small animals reveal an unusual ambiance at night, reflecting new views in black-light. Light wavelengths or their absence help plants and animals “change clothes” from day and night in the ultraviolet.
Monday, March 15 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Mangroves & the Indian River Lagoon Hike at Donald B. Moore Heritage Preserve, 305 Torpey Road, Fort Pierce. The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most biodiverse estuaries in the Northern Hemisphere and is home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals. Enjoy a leisurely forested hike as we make our way towards the lagoon and mangrove areas. Along the way, we’ll share what makes these areas unique and why they are critical to our life here in Florida.
Saturday, March 20 from 7 to 8:30 a.m.: Early Bird Hike at Citrus Hammock Preserve, 6511 S Citrus Ave., Fort Pierce. Start your day with wildlife and aquatic vistas by the pond and on a trail running along the fingerlets of the St. Lucie River. Ideal for leisurely exercise earlier in the morning to accommodate your busy weekend schedule.
Saturday, March 20 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: The Secret Life of Otters Family Hike at the Oxbow Eco-Center, 5400 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie. Along the river trail of this preserve, we’ll discuss the amazing and secretive life of the North American river otter. Related to the badger and mink, these Mustelids have unique and adorable adaptations that help them to survive. Appropriate for ages 8 and older; minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Wednesday, March 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Newcomers Hike “Coastlines & Coral Reefs” at Ocean Bay Preserve, 6851 S Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach. New to St. Lucie County’s Guided Nature Programs? Then, this free experience is for you. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the dune and maritime hammock habitats of this site. Once on the beach, we’ll discuss items you may find in the algae wrack line and investigate coral reefs in depth. This program is for new participants only.
Friday, March 26 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Stress-Free Serenity Hike at Ten Mile Creek Preserve, 3401 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. For those seeking the peace and serenity that nature can provide us in these trying times, experience wildlife and natural habitats through this “silent hike” to contemplate 2021 through the sights and sounds of nature.
Saturday, March 27 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Creatures & Killers: Florida Strangler Fig Hike at the Stephen J. Fousek Preserve, 7793 State Hwy 613, Port St. Lucie. Meet the native tree that preys on other trees. It masquerades as various creatures and critters–the one and only Florida Strangler Fig. Adventure through the “creature and critter garden” at this preserve in the company of a leafy tree assassin.
Saturday, March 27 from 7 to 9 p.m.: Fireflies & Bioluminescence Night Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. 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 twinkling lights in the air and on the ground.
Saturday, March 27 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Managing Mosquitoes - A Partnership with Nature Hike at Bear Point Sanctuary, 2601 S Ocean Drive, Fort Pierce. Traverse the beautiful Bear Point Sanctuary to learn how St. Lucie Mosquito Control works hand-in-hand with Mother Nature to keep mosquitoes at bay. The property is home to a mangrove swamp habitat bordering the Indian River Lagoon. Participants may encounter wildlife such as mangrove tree crabs, land crabs, wading and migratory birds on this leisurely one-mile outing.
For more information and to find the link for registration, please visit www.slchikes.org, call 772-462-2526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Programs are usually limited to eight people helping to allow participants to immerse themselves into the county’s beautiful natural areas. Based on current best practices, 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.