The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens is a fool-proof plan to enjoy a beautiful day. There are plenty of trails to walk and whether you decide to do a half mile walk around the lake or a three mile hike through the woods, you'll be sure to have a great time enjoying nature in Florida.
This hiking trail is one of the busier ones in Jacksonville, FL. They have a lot of parking that is usually close to filled. We have been here over 10 times, and never didn't find a parking spot, but it has always felt like there were only 2-3 open spots when we pulled up. The Parking is completely free.
There is no parking or any entrance fee at this park which is a huge plus! Because the park is free if you really like what they are doing and you want to support them you can donate Here or you can apply for membership Here On their website it also says "By becoming an Arboretum member, you are supporting the day to day operations that are vital to advancing our mission of cultivating a unique environment for recreation, education and inspiration." Having an amazing park like this that is completely free is very rare. Doing your part to atleast help keep it clean goes a long way!
The entire park is completely dog friendly except for Rosemary Trail. I don't think there has been a time that i have gone that I didn't see atleast one dog there. They have signs around the area requesting all dogs must be on a 6ft leash.
There are several different trails and routes you can go. On their map they list a total of 10 total trails. They include the Aralia Trail, Jones Creek Trail, Sugarberry Trail, Upper Ravine Trail, Lower Ravine Trail, Lake Loop Trail, Live Oak Trail, Sand Ridge Trail, Deer Moss Trail, and Rosemary Trail (No Dogs Here).
Whenever we go hiking here we generally walk around the lake to the pavillion, and then head towards Jones Creek Trail, through the Upper Ravine Trail, through the Aralia Trail, through Sugarberry Trail, and back through the Jones Creek Trail. Throughout these trails you go from dirt to bridges, and see lots of cool vegetation which is all pretty much marked if you are curious of what it is.
As far as wildlife goes most of it is in or around the lake. Around the trails you see different types of birds, and insects like butteflies, dragonflies, and Spiders.
Throughout the park there are warning signs that say something along the lines of not to drink or enter the water because it is unsafe/ contaminated. There are also certain parts throughout the trail where there are large trees that have fallen over, and they have signs that say Erosion Control Area.
Another nice feature along the trails are plenty of resting points with benches to sit in. We usually take advantage of these to get some water for us and our dog. The forestation is great for shade from the sun, and a breeze usually slips between the trees however it still gets pretty hot on summer days in Florida.
If you are with young kids we strongly recommend you just walking them around the lake to the pavilion area. At the pavillion you can look into the lake and see plenty of fish and turtles. Also has some places to sit around the lake if you need a break between trails.
Fun fact about us is that we actually got engaged right at that very pavilion on May 16th, 2019! Before getting engaged at that spot we hardly ever stopped directly at the pavilion just would take a peak at the lake and immediately hit the trails. Now everytime we visit we make sure to head there first, and hangout with the turtles for a bit. Overall this is one of our favorite trails to go to. They do a great job of maintaining their trails, and gardens. Even though a lot of people go hiking here the park is so big, and spread out you most likely will only cross paths with 1-2 families while you are out and about.
I'll let them tell their story here you can find this and more information about them at https://www.jacksonvillearboretum.org "The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre property with an interesting history. From about 1944 to 1961, the Humphries Gold Mining Company operated strip mines in this area of Jacksonville. Despite its name, Humphries did not mine for gold here but for minerals to make titanium. These mining activities severely impacted soils and vegetation in parts of the Jacksonville Arboretum, but these areas are recovering. In the early 1970s as a condition to an EPA Grant for building the Arlington East treatment facility, the City of Jacksonville purchased the property as a passive recreation and open space buffer around the treatment plant. For the next 30 years, however, the property went unused and was sometimes abused by illegal dumping. In 2004, a group of citizens began discussions with the City to lease the property for recreational use as an arboretum. The lease was worked out, and the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens officially opened to the public in November 2008. At the time the Arboretum opened, there was a paved parking area, the Lake Loop, Jones Creek and Ravine trails. All of the trails, benches, board walks, and picnic tables in the Arboretum were built by volunteers from the community."