It is so therapeutic to get out of the hustle and bustle of a city...large or modest - and spend time among wildlife, water and dense foliage.
Several years ago, I was helped to discover a nature preserve in northern St. Johns County. A boardwalk runs through it for about .7 miles, ending over the intercostal for a calming view of boats and sometimes yellow or black biplanes overhead.
There were a series of wildfires in 2011 that compromised some of the lushness along the trail, but the new growth is progressing nicely.
During a walk or run through the trail, you will likely catch sight of various birds and crabs. On occasion, I've come across a scorpion and what looked like a fox quickly retreating underneath the boardwalk. There are several posted signs warning of the presence of venomous snakes. I'm sure they aren't far off, but thus far they've cautiously escaped my view.
Visits are most enjoyable in autumn, spring and winter. The summer brings relentless bugs and makes it difficult to enjoy the experience. Near the end of the trail are picnic areas.
How to access the trail gives it "best kept secret" status...
It is tucked away inside Palencia. Most don't seem to know that the area is open to all St. Johns County residents. After reaching the guard gate located off of the traffic circle, visitors simply need to let security know that they are visiting the nature trail and access is granted.
It's a memorable place to visit with friends and family. It's easy to get hooked after a first visit.