15 Best Hiking Trails in Jacksonville Florida (Scenic & Waterside)

Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental USA and is situated on the Atlantic Ocean in northeast Florida. This city is home to more than 10 state parks, giving it the largest urban park system. You also get beautiful beaches in addition to the charming St. Johns River.

The hiking trails in Jacksonville have some of the most gorgeous landscapes that are short and easy to hike. You will enjoy breathtaking marches and waterways, spotting local birds and wildlife along with your family and friends. Therefore, it makes them perfect for novice hikers. Still, even for those that are experienced, the scenery is guaranteed to steal your heart too.

Whether you are looking for a family-friendly hike along the beach, the city, or in nature, Jacksonville has got it all. Below you’ll find the best trails that will have you explore Jacksonville’s magic.

1. Julington Durbin Creek Preserve Yellow and White Loop

Credit: Ariel Acosta / AllTrails

This trail consists of two loops that are well-maintained and wide. You can adjust the length of your hike by taking the shorter or the longer loop.

There is not much scenery on this trail. With this being said, it is the perfect trail for spotting wildlife and wildflowers. It is also nicely leveled and is usually not crowded.

Some reviewers also report that some owners do not pick up after their dogs. In addition to that, there is not much shade in this area.

While this trail allows dogs on leash, it is recommended to beware. It is best to check for ticks on yourselves and your dogs after the hike. Furthermore, it is best to bring bug spray along with you.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 5.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 52 Feet

2. Live Oak, Lake Loop, and Rosemary Ridge Trails

Credit: Betty Evans / AllTrails

A short loop that is mostly shaded and well maintained situated in the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. It starts with a paved path and intersects with other trails in the Jacksonville Arboretum.

It contains a man-made lake and a variety of animals, trees, and plants. You will often find informational signs about the local flora and fauna.

It is worth noting that Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens charge a donation fee for non-members. Dogs are allowed on this trail if they have a leash. Although in certain areas, dogs can be off-leash.

It is best to visit in the winter around February and March when the camellias are blooming for a gorgeous view. Though, it is beautiful year-round.

You want to be cautious of ticks during tick season on this trail. Furthermore, you want to bring bug spray along, as the trail has many bugs.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 45 Feet

3. Hammock Trail at Fort Caroline

Credit: joachim sacher / AllTrails

A short looped trail with amazing scenery. It also has an important history to it. Fort Caroline is where the French occupied in the sixteenth century. A stretch of palmettos and Spanish moss line this area.

You will find a fort, informational signs, and exhibits in the visitors center. In addition to your hike, you will get insight into how life looked at that time. You will also hear stories of the first contact between Europeans and Indian Americans.

This trail allows dogs on leash and is perfect for kids. There are also benches along the trail for resting. Reviews report that this trail is not too buggy. If you are looking for a family picnic that is a mix of hiking, scenery, and history then this is the perfect trail.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.4 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 42 Feet

4. Fort George Island Cultural State Park

Credit: Jon McGowan / AllTrails

A loop trail with hills, lush woods, and a sea view. It is a rare opportunity to walk along a part of a former golf course. Some areas are covered with Florida’s soft white sand.

This trail not only offers charming views but also many activities like fishing, boating, hiking, and off-road cycling. It can be buggy though, so it is important to bring bug spray with you.

The area is well-shaded and filled with wildlife. Dogs are allowed on a leash but beware in tick season and thoroughly check your dog after you are done.

Reviews report that there are no benches for resting. Though, there is a small museum that you can visit and cool off during your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 55 Feet

5. Bulls Bay Preserve Trail

Credit: Courtney Mecikalski / All Trails

A looped wetland trail preserving the tributaries of the Ortega and Trout Rivers. This trail is about the primitive feel and wilderness.

There is a swamp overlook, lily ponds, large oak trees, and a variety of wildlife species to observe. It also contains a small creek and a small waterfall. The area has no markings at all except at the trailhead. So be cautious about going on a bike path instead of the trail.

You can bring your dog to this trail but beware of ticks. Furthermore, you will want to bring bug spray along with you to this trail. At times this trail is wet and muddy. Therefore, you want to bring proper shoes.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1 Mile
Total Elevation Gain: 22 Feet

6. Tillie K Fowler Park Island Trail

Credit: Brita Abram / AllTrails

A looped trail that takes you along the Ortega River. It goes through the upland and floodplain forest habitats. This makes it a mostly shaded area and full of wildlife.

The area can become wet and muddy so, make sure to check the weather for recent rain and bring proper shoe wear. You can also visit an observation tower to have a full view of the area.

Dogs on this trail are allowed on a leash. Reviews recommend bringing bug spray along as it can get quite buggy.

There are also other trails south of this area if you wish to add more distance. Thus, helping you to explore the Tillie K Fowler Regional Park. This makes it great for seasoned hikers as well.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 13 Feet

7. Big Talbot Island Timucuan Trail

Credits: Cody Koski / Alltrails

An out and back trail that is popular not only for hiking but also for fishing. This trail is projected to connect Amelia Island and Fort Caroline.

In addition to that, all areas offer paths to the beaches. This will make for a relaxing time after the hike. Dogs are allowed here on a leash. Although, it is important to note that dogs are not allowed on the beaches.

Moreover, bug spray and sunscreen are a must on this trail. As some areas and the beaches are not well-shaded. Please note that Big Talbot State Park charges a fee to enter.

This trail offers mostly shaded and smooth pavement. You will also enjoy beautiful views that end with a stunning boneyard beach.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 6.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 32 Feet

8. Amelia Island Trail

Credits: Brock Hill / Alltrails

An out-and-back trail close to Fernandina Beach runs along the main road connecting Amelia Island to Jacksonville. The road is smoothly paved and contains a lot of shade. This makes it perfect for relaxing walks or biking.

The trails also contain a commercial, plantation, and residential area. Horseback riding is a popular activity in this area as well.

This trail is dog friendly and great for kids or strollers. In addition to that, there are many benches along the trail for resting and relaxing.

Furthermore, you will want to bring bug spray and sunscreen on this trail. As there are many unshaded areas along the beach. It is also worth noting that Amelia State Park charges an entry fee.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 11.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 131 Feet

9. Goldenrod Loop

Credits: Joshua Lewis / Alltrails

A short loop trail that is best to visit from March through September. On this trail, you can enjoy beautiful scenery, bird watching, and observe various wildlife species from a safe distance.

This trail is well shaded and has access to other trails in the area. A part of it runs around a pond where kayaks are launched. If you are planning to come in May or June, you will want to bring bug spray along with you.

Unfortunately, you have to leave your pup at home. Pets are not allowed on this trail. Reviews note that the sounds of the cars nearby overshadow the sounds of nature. In addition to that, there is a $5 parking fee for this trail.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3 Feet

10. Blue Cypress Park Trails

Credits: bryttani davis / Alltrails

This short looped trail runs along the shores of the charming St. Johns River. Also, it goes out to a pier with a unique view of downtown Jacksonville. It is an easy and relaxing trail perfect for kids.

The area contains 3 different sections. It contains a paved shaded area, an elevated walk along the river, and finally a wooded loop with a good deal of raised roots. The second section contains must-see views along with fishing activities.

Dogs are welcome in this area. Although, they must be on a leash at all times. Moreover, reviews emphasize that sunscreen is a must as there is not a great deal of shade in the area. Bug spray is also great for this trail.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 32 Feet

11. Red Maple Boardwalk and Blueberry Trail

Credit: Erika Sepega / AllTrails

A short looped trail that overlooks the Sawmill Slough Preserve. You will enjoy the beautiful scenery along with a variety of wildlife species and bird-watching activities.

The trail loops around Lake Oneida and boasts many great viewpoints. Moreover, it is easy and short making it perfect for a family picnic.

In addition to the beautiful scenery, there are a wide variety of activities that you can do as well. Some of these activities include workout stations, educational reading, zip lining, picnic areas, and kayaking. Although, unfortunately, this trail does not allow dogs.

Reviewers suggest that it is best to bring bug spray along with you as it can get quite buggy at times. Moreover, it can get quite muddy after heavy rain. The trail has free parking on weekends only and is not very stroller friendly.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3 Feet

12. Camp Milton Preserve Walk

Credits: James Rambo / Alltrails

A short looped trail that is a civil war preservation site. You will find information boards along the path making it a fun educational experience.

This trail is mostly a paved and boardwalk surface. Moreover, it travels through a forested area with a great variety of wildlife to observe. This trail is perfect for fans of a relaxing, quiet, and easy stroll with a beautiful view.

This trail connects to the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail trail. Thus, if you want to extend your hike, it is best to head there as well.

On this trail, dogs are welcome but must be on a leash at all times. It is also perfect for kids as the paths are shady and well maintained. Reviews recommend grabbing bug spray along with you.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 22 Feet

13. Black Rock Trail

Credit: Nancy Leach / AllTrails

A short out and back trail that takes you through a dense forest into a stunning viewpoint of the beach. In addition to the viewpoint, you will have much more to enjoy.

There are opportunities to view black rock appearing spodosols and marine life! Furthermore, you can see nesting shorebirds and a beautiful strewn driftwood beach.

Moreover, this path is paved and short. This helps make it easy for novice hikers and kid-friendly. Which makes this trail stroller friendly. Reviews recommend bringing bug spray along the hike as it can get quite buggy.

Visiting on the weekdays is the best option. Those exploring on the weekends tend to have a more crowded trail. It is also worth noting that Big Talbot Island State Park charges an entrance fee.

Black Rock Trail allows dogs as long as they are on a leash. Although, you need to beware because unfortunately they are not allowed on the beach.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1 Mile
Total Elevation Gain: 6 Feet

14. Lea Loop Trail

Credit: Thomas Rohtsalu / AllTrails

A short looped trail that holds different biomes in the park. Furthermore, the area is a quiet family-friendly trail that is fun and relaxing. As this trail is in Jacksonville, it serves as a nice escape from suburbia.

This trail has a decent amount of shade with a good view of the lake nearby. This trail follows along the water which will help give you a sense of peacefulness and relaxation.

The area is dog friendly. Thus, you can bring your pup along with you on a leash at all times. Also, this trail is stroller accessible!

Reviews recommend you bring bug spray as it can get quite buggy. Moreover, bring waterproof footwear as this area can get quite muddy after heavy rain.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 16 Feet

15. Cedar Point Blue Trail

Credit: Heather Whitfield / AllTrails

A short looped trail in the Cedar Point area of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. You will not only enjoy the beautiful scenery as you approach the creeks.

There is also the opportunity to enjoy observing the different local wildlife species in the area. In addition to that, this area is perfect for bird spotting.

Moreover, this trail is most enjoyable from November through March. If you are planning to visit this area in the summer, reviews warn that the area is seriously buggy. So, you will want to bring bug spray along with you.

Cedar Point Blue Trail allows dogs as long as they are on a leash at all times. Although, they recommend that you beware of ticks during tick season.

This trail is also great for hikers looking to extend their trail as well. There is a red trail nearby that will be worth exploring.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 29 Feet