Fall In Love With Nature on Guided Hikes from St. Lucie County this February
St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department wants you to fall in love with the great outdoors as it continues its free guided hikes through May.
These programs are free and open to the public; however, reservations are required as space is limited. Hikes for February include:
- Friday, Feb. 2 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.: Dawn Chorus Birdsong Stroll at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Why do "songbirds" sing? There are lots of reasons for these special vocalizations. Be a part of the "Dawn Chorus” while enjoying the beautiful hues of the sun’s morning light. It's an opportunity to hear the melodic songs of resident and migratory bird species along the banks of the St. Lucie River.
- Saturday, Feb. 3 from 8 to 11:30 a.m.: 5K to 10K Fitness Hike at Bluefield Ranch Preserve, 30501 Bluefield Ranch Road, Fort Pierce. This preserve features everything from scrub to wetlands and some of the longest hiking trails in St. Lucie County. With a choice of either a 5k hike through scrub, or a longer 10k hike to wetlands, you can choose the distance that best suits you and your fitness level.
- Sunday, Feb. 4 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Florida Natural History Hike at Gordy Road Recreation Area, 3650 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. Start from the bottom up. The natural history of Florida begins with its formation. Learn how this state was born underwater. We’ll look for rocks and examine the soil as we discover the natural past in one of Florida’s earliest ecosystems.
- Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.: What’s Blooming Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. Although our northern friends don’t get to experience flowers blooming in February, in Florida our warmer climate offers the chance to partake in the beauty of year-round blooms. We'll hike more than three miles on this walk, so be prepared. We’ll see a number of unique species found within this wonderful preserve.
- Thursday, Feb. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m.: In Search of the Gopher Tortoise Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. The Landlord of the Uplands, the Eastern Gopher Tortoise, grazes away in the late afternoons to avoid the heat of the day at noon. Along our journey we’ll explore the evidence of tortoise movement throughout the preserve. We’ll look for scat, tracks and signs of burrow maintenance. This hike affords visitors an opportunity to learn about vegetation favored by this beloved terrestrial reptile, what makes for a good burrow location and what makes these tortoises the “hosts with the most.”
- Saturday, Feb. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Full Moon Night Hike at Steven J. Fousek (Paleo Hammock) Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Moonlight, critters, and woods, oh my. We're 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. 11 from 9 to 11 a.m.: What’s a Hammock? Hike at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Here’s a hint, it’s not what sailors sleep in. Experience a hammock residing on the banks of the North Fork of the Saint Lucie River as the early Spanish explorers might have seen them. Along the way we’ll see Florida’s state tree, the Sabal palm as well as other hammock plant life.
- Monday, Feb. 12 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Changing Beach Family Hike & Beach Clean Up at Ocean Bay Beachside Preserve, 7600 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach. Join us to see how the beach and life around it has changed month to month. As we walk the sandy shore we’ll explore the exciting wrack line and find the treasures offered up by the sea. At the end of this monthly adventure, you’ll get a chance to become an environmental steward by removing the man-made trash and restoring the beach’s pristine beauty. All are welcome but this hike is most appropriate for families with children ages 5 and older. All minors must be accompanied by an adult.
- Friday, Feb. 16 from 8:30 to 11 a.m.: Songbird Seminar and Hike at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Learn about the largest group of birds in Florida; beginning with an indoor seminar at the Eco-Heritage House located within this beautiful preserve. We’ll explore what makes a bird a member of this amazing group, learn about which “songbirds” are in Florida, and discuss resources – such as checklists and field guides – to help you find and identify these amazing birds. Then, we'll venture outside to hike and listen for the “songbirds” we learned about in the seminar. A "2-for-1" class and hike experience.
- Saturday, Feb. 17 from 7 to 9 p.m.: Ultra-Violet Adventure Night Hike at Walton Scrub Preserve, 10809 South Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce. Immerse yourself in the ultra-violet ambiance given off by the preserve’s nighttime plant-life and small creatures. With the help of your guide’s black-light, we’ll learn about how wavelengths of light have the power to render a plant or animal’s exterior different colors and how nature can “change clothing” from day and night.
- Sunday, Feb. 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Pollen-Loving Insects Family Hike at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Pollen and nectar make the world go-around for many tiny critters. Together we’ll search for some of nature’s most important bugs and discover some of the cool and fun facts about these pint-sized heroes. This small preserve offers a short quarter-mile trail, which is great for children.
- Sunday, Feb. 18 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Sunset Nature Photography Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Capture a beautiful moment in time during this guided nature photography hike. We'll begin by hiking the trail along the creek to spy some of nature’s beauty. We’ll wrap up our adventure hoping to photograph one of this site’s renowned sunsets. Be sure to bring your camera or smartphone.
- Friday, Feb. 23 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.: Kayak Adventure on the North Fork at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvtiz Road, Fort Pierce. Spend this late afternoon relaxing on the North Fork as we paddle south towards the St. Lucie River. Enjoy a great view of birds heading home to roost before the sunsets. We'll discuss some of the conservation issues facing St. Lucie and what is being done to protect it Kayaks, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices, and paddles are provided (you may also provide your own equipment if desired). The cost is $10 per person. No online registration, please call 772-462-2526 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
- Saturday, Feb. 24 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Prairie Hammock Wildlife Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Many birds and animals call the prairie tree islands of Teague Hammock home. From wetland birds to large mammals, many share hammock island habitat and often leave behind evidence of their residence. Participants will be looking for the various signs of life and seeing which creatures we can spot along the way.
- Sunday, Feb. 25 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: What’s in a Pond Hike at Citrus Hammock Preserve, 6511 SE Citrus Ave, Fort Pierce. The preserve’s retention pond is a hub of activity for wildlife, boasting all manner of critters swimming, flying and walking. We’ll hike through wooded trails along the tributaries of the St. Lucie River and by the pond. Participants will get a chance to take in the antics of the local wildlife and enjoy the beauty of site’s seasonal wildflowers.
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 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.stlucieco.gov/erd. For a list of all St. Lucie County parks and preserves visit the interactive map at http://gis.stlucieco.gov/parkspreserves.