Jonathan Dickinson State Park is named after a Quaker merchant by the name of Jonathan Dickinson who was shipwrecked off the coast 1696. During World War II, the land was home to Camp Murphy, an army base for Southern Signal Corps School. The barracks are still visible.
The recreation-rich park of Jonathan Dickinson rests several miles inland off the southeastern shores of Florida. Close to 11,500 acres of land and river a mosaic of thirteen ecological communities including sand scrub and pine Flatwoods to bald cypress swamps and red mangrove estuaries exist in the park. About 20 percent of the park is covered in coastal sand pine scrub, a biological community so rare it is designated “globally imperiled.”
The large picnic area is on the banks of the Loxahatchee River. Four pavilions are available for group or family picnics. Single picnic tables with barbecue grills are scattered under large shade trees. Don’t be surprised if you see a Deer pass by as you enjoy your meal. Two of the nature trails start right in the picnic area.
A moment away is Hobe Mountain, a 124-foot tower offering sights of the forest on the west and sights of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. This observation tower is accessed on a short road just beyond the park’s entrance lot.
The Loxahatchee River was named a National Wild and Scenic River in 1985. Named by the Seminole Indians, “Loxahatchee” means River of Turtles. It winds its way through the park, passing under a canopy of centuries-old cypress trees. The river has a timeless beauty all its own, possessing remarkable ecological and recreational values which are unique in the United States. Living at the water’s edge, you’ll find a variety of wading birds including Herons, Egrets, Ibis, and Anhingas. Be sure to keep an eye out overhead for soaring Osprey and the American Bald Eagle. Many nest within the park. As you approach the water, look for signs of River Otter. They are rarely seen but do enjoy the fresh tea-colored water of the Loxahatchee River. Glimpses of Florida Sandhill Crane, Scrub Jay, and Gopher Tortoise are frequently recorded. The best time to see wildlife at Jonathan Dickinson State Park is in the early morning. This high-usage park oftentimes sends wildlife scurrying for cover. Another way to explore the wildlife is by canoe.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park has the last Atlantic coast state campground before the Florida Keys. This park has nearly something for every outdoor taste. There is hiking, paddling, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, boat tours, environmental education programs, campgrounds with 135 campsites and more.
For more information, call 772-546-2771.