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St. Lucie County Gives the Gift of Guided Hikes this December

Post Date:11/21/2019 8:48 AM

Unwrap the beauty of nature this December with St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources’ guided hikes. These free nature programs allow hikers to explore the county’s more than 10,000 acres of preserves, while learning about the history and wildlife that reside there.

Hikes for December include:

  • Friday, Dec. 6 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.: Intro to Backpacking Program & Hike at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. Are you looking to meet new friends, like being immersed in nature and learning a new skill? Then this program is for you. Join us to learn how to pack for an overnight backpacking trip as well as tips and tricks to plan your own adventure. Afterward, enjoy a short hike to discuss Leave No Trace principles and navigation techniques. No experience is necessary; however, participants are encouraged to bring a backpack and any gear they may have.
  • Saturday, Dec. 7 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.: St. Lucie County’s Annual Christmas Bird Count and Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Ever wondered what citizen scientists do during the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count?Join members of the St. Lucie County chapter of the National Audubon Society to learn basic birding and counting techniques. We’ll hike to identify and count bird species and record our sightings on field cards for submission to St. Lucie County and the National Audubon Society – this is a great citizen science event.
  • Sunday, Dec. 8 from 7 to 9 a.m.: Early Morning Wildlife Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Animals are active in the early morning.Join this slow, quiet hike in search of deer, bobcat and other animals as they begin the day or end their night.
  • Monday, Dec. 9 from 8:30 to 11 a.m.: Monday Morning Paddle at 10 Mile Creek Preserve, 3401 Gordy Road, Fort Pierce. Start your week off right and escape the hectic daily life and paddle your cares away on this leisurely guided tour of the St. Lucie River. Paddlers of all levels are welcome. Wildlife sightings along 10 Mile Creek include barred owls, wood ducks, night herons, anhingas and alligators. Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, 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 are a must.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Biologicals Behaving Badly Hike at Walton Scrub Preserve, 10809 Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce. We will discover and discuss sneaky invaders on this very exotic hike. See what “bad guys” are now in Florida’s natural areas and how they can significantly impact the health of an ecosystem. Find out what you can do to protect our environmentally sensitive lands from these invasive species.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 5 to 6 p.m.: Moving Meditation Series (Trail Run) at Indrio Savannahs Preserve, 5275 Tozour Road, Fort Pierce. Who says meditation has to be done while sitting? Our moving meditation trail run allows you to disconnect from the worries of everyday life while leading an active lifestyle in the outdoors. This activity is perfect for anyone capable of running at least one mile. And don’t worry, this is not a race. Decompress before the holidays on this one-mile run and cool down hike. Everyone is welcome.
  • Friday, Dec. 13 from 7:30 to 10 a.m.: Morning Hike for Birders at Jones Hammock Preserve, 2051 Bell Ave., Fort Pierce. It's an all-avian hike along a secluded wetland and river. Be sure to bring your binoculars, scopes, field guides, and checklists, if you have them. This preserve, adjacent to the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, boasts rich resident and migratory birdlife that are attracted to the river’s bountiful food supply. This hike is sure to impress any avid birder.
  • Friday, Dec. 13 from 5:30 to 6 p.m.: Sunset Coastal Discovery Walk at Ocean Bay Beachside Preserve, 7600 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach. Secluded beaches, golden sunsets and a cool ocean breeze are the perfect way to end the day. Take a deep breath as you enjoy the sunset and the start of another evening. Before the sun sets, walk with us as we discover how these beaches protect us from major storm events and what wildlife exists just offshore. Finish the evening sitting along the waters edge watching as the coastal environment transforms.
  • Saturday, Dec. 14 from 8 to 11 a.m.: North Fork Riverbank Hike at Oxbow Eco-Center Preserve, 5400 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie. Hike through pine flatwoods on the way to an adventure along a rugged trail of spoil hills and bridges. This trip to the northern edge of the preserve provides participants with opportunities to see a wide variety of wildlife and ecosystems.
  • Sunday, Dec. 15 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.: Managing Florida's Natural Resources Hike at Sheraton Scrub Preserve, 2508 Juanita Ave., Fort Pierce. Florida’s “paradise-like” climate supports exceptionally diverse plant life, wildlife and ecosystems.Land managers have to take a variety of approaches and use different techniques to help restore the wild areas back to their former glory, which supports the abundance of species that call Florida home. While we hike, we will discuss some of the natural resource management being conducted in St. Lucie County and why it is vital to maintain high biodiversity on our sites.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 18 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Holiday Air Plants Hike at Ancient Oaks Preserve/Weldon B. Lewis Park, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. Discover how the forest “decorates” the old growth oaks, pines and cabbage palms for the holidays. Hikers will spot many of the air plant species that are found in St. Lucie County, as well as learn about their essential role in this peaceful "Old Florida" preserve and their unique adaptations that allow them to thrive airborne.
  • Saturday, Dec. 21 from 7:30 to 10 a.m.: Prairie Hammock Wildlife Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Fort Pierce. Many birds and animals call the prairie tree islands of Teague Hammock home. From wetland birds to large mammals, many share these hammock island habitats and often leave behind evidence of their residence. We're on the search for various signs of life and seeing what creatures we can spot along the way.
  • Sunday, Dec. 22 from 8:30 to 10 a.m.: What’s in a Hammock Hike at Sweetwater Hammock Preserve, 4100 South 25th St., Fort Pierce. Experience a Florida hammock on the banks of the North Fork of the St. Lucie River as the early Spanish explorers or Ais and Seminole communities might have seen it. Along the way, we’ll see Florida’s state tree, the Sabal palm, as well as other hammock plant and animal life.
  • Friday, Dec. 27 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.: Nature’s Holiday Light Display Night Hike at Bluefield Preserve, 10501 Bluefield Ranch Road, Port St. Lucie. Away from the light pollution of the city, one can see the extravagant beauty of the stars and the natural holiday lights they provide. Go west to Bluefield Preserve for this naked eye astronomy adventure where participants can hike under the starlight of the open sky.
  • Saturday, Dec. 28 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.: Natural Beauty Kayak Excursion at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Discover one of the wild tributaries of the St. Lucie River by kayak on this guided adventure along Ten Mile Creek. Learn to identify numerous birds, trees and flowers along the way.Appropriate for ages 14 and older. Kayaks, 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 are a must.
  • Saturday, Dec. 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Ultra-Violet Adventure Night Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 SE Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie. Frogs trill, owls lurk and bats fly overhead. These nighttime wonders await us in this piney wetland, which is as magical at night as it is during the day. Insects, spiders and lichens will be highlighted with "new eyes" a UV-filtered light provides. The black-light helps us to understand how organisms fully use the light spectrum to communicate.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 1 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. & 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Annual New Year’s Day Hike at D.J. Wilcox Preserve, 399 Wilcox Road, Fort Pierce. Ring in 2020 with a hike to immerse yourself in the relaxing benefits of nature. Whether you are an early bird or need to rest after some of the festivities, we have a fun hike for you.Join us for a leisurely stroll through a preserve featuring towering pine trees, live oaks, seasonal scrub wildflowers and an excellent opportunity to view various bird species.

For more information and to find the link for registration, please visit www.slchikes.org, call 772-462-2526 or email slchikes@stlucieco.org.

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.

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