Here in northeast Florida, Amelia Island’s parks, trails and greenway offer natural areas for hiking, biking, birding and other nature observation. Riding bikes on Amelia Island’s 13 miles of beachfront at low tide is another excellent option for a leisurely bike ride in a beautiful waterfront setting. The best public spots on the island for nature observation are Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island State Park and Egans Greenway. Also, just off the southern tip of Amelia, are the Talbot Islands State Parks, Big and Little Talbot.
BIKING, HIKING AT FORT CLINCH STATE PARK
A great spot for bike riding on Amelia Island is within Fernandina’s Fort Clinch State Park. Enjoy hiking in the woods (there’s six miles of off-road wooded trails), and bird watching (Fort Clinch is the gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail). Plus spend time outdoors fishing, relaxing on the beach, picnicking, and camping within this large state park covering over 1,400 acres on Amelia Island’s northern tip.
Learn about American history with a tour of the Civil War-era brick fortress circa 1864. The expansive waterfront vistas from the fort’s outer walls are second to none on Amelia Island. From the park’s entrance at Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, it’s about a 3-mile drive through shady, wild tree canopy to reach the brick fortress. There’s plenty of parking, public restrooms, wooden dune walkovers to the beach, picnic areas with tables and barbeques. At just $6 a vehicle (2 to 8 people or $4 for a single driver) to enter the park (plus $2 per person if you wish to tour the fort), it’s one of the best bargains in Florida for a day-vacation. If you ride in on a bicycle, it costs $2 at the entry ranger station. It’s always a good idea to have bug repellent, especially for the wooded trails.
EGANS GREENWAY, FERNANDINA BEACH
Not a state park, but a natural preserved area owned by the city of Fernandina Beach, is Egans Greenway. Encompassing over 300 acres on Amelia Island, native flora and fauna can be observed here, a peaceful place to spend some quality time outdoors. Grassy trails are perfect for a nature walk. It’s also one of the best spots on the island for bird watching. Migrating butterflies love a variety of wild flowers in the Greenway, including the white flowers of Spanish Needle. Be sure to bring binoculars, your camera, and bug repellent.
There are two sections of the Greenway, free to the public. To enter the north section, go to the city of Fernandina’s Recreation Center, located at 2500 Atlantic Avenue, where you’ll find the entrance to the Greenway behind the auditorium. This is a good place to park (plus there’s a public restroom at this Greenway entrance/exit). Also, trail maps are available at the Atlantic Recreation Center during business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 am – 6 pm.
Enter the Greenway (both the north section and south section) from Jasmine Street (between Citrona and South Fletcher Avenue). However, there’s limited parking along Jasmine near the entrances to the Greenway. The other Greenway entrance/exit of the south section is located on Sadler Road behind the Residence Inn, where there are several designated parking spots near the entry to the Greenway.
AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL
The Amelia Island Trail is a 6.2 mile off-road paved trail on Amelia Island’s southend that runs along sections of the island’s largest resorts, Summer Beach and Amelia Island Plantation. The trail runs between the Nassau Sound bridge at Amelia Island State Park all the way to Peters Point Park beach access (in the vicinity of the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton and Golf Club of Amelia). This Amelia Island Trail is part of Florida’s section of the East Coast Greenway.
AMELIA ISLAND STATE PARK
Located on the southend of the island, Amelia Island State Park (904)251-2320 is the nesting grounds for a variety of shore birds and offers a natural, peaceful setting for observation. With over 200 acres of wilderness along the southern tip of Amelia Island, enjoy a beautiful, quiet setting (also a favorite spot of shoreline fishermen). The park entrance is off First Coast Highway near the southend bridge that stretches across the Nassau Sound ($2 per person entry fee). Did you know Amelia Island State Park is the only state park in Florida to offer horseback riding on the beach?
BIKE TO BIG TALBOT ISLAND
At Amelia Island’s southern doorstep sits Big Talbot Island State Park offering biking and hiking trails. Read all about biking between Amelia and Big Talbot islands and browse photo gallery.