An Adventurer’s Guide to Jonathan Dickinson State Park

July 11, 2023 | Read Time: 7 minutes

kayakers Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Prepare to be swept away by the awe-inspiring beauty of Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Situated in Hobe Sound, this expansive park covers over 10,500 acres, making it one of the largest state parks in Southeast Florida. From getting to know the “Wildman of the Loxahatchee” to climbing South Florida’s highest peak, Jonathan Dickinson is filled with once-in-a-lifetime adventures for visitors of all ages. A rare treasure right in Martin County’s backyard. Discover all there is to explore at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

1. Begin the Adventure By Becoming a Park Expert

Lake at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Setting the stage for an extraordinary journey through the captivating Johnathan Dickinson State Park, The Elsa Kimbrell Environmental Education and Research Center provides explorers of all ages with fun and informative education about the park. The interactive displays teach invaluable information about the park’s rich history, diverse flora and fauna and wide array of ecosystems. With classrooms buzzing with excitement and a research laboratory fueling innovation, the Education Center is the perfect launchpad to ignite your spirit of discovery. Let the Elsa Kimbrell Environmental Education and Research Center enchant you, where every step reveals a new marvel, and every moment builds anticipation for what is to come.

2. Experience the Scenic Loxahatchee River Up Close and Personal

Birds flying over Scenic Loxahatchee River

There is no better way to explore the serene Loxahatchee River than by gliding across the waters via canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Recognized as Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, this 7.6-mile river is like paddling back in time, winding under canopies of centuries-old cypress trees and mangrove-lined estuaries. Keep an eye out for elusive wildlife while taking in everything these peaceful waters offer. Gopher tortoises and otters can be found sunning and playing along the banks of the waterway. Spy birds soaring above the river including, egrets, herons, scrub-jays, rare wood storks and more. Manatees have even been known to make an occasional appearance, saying hello to unassuming paddlers. With kayak and paddle board rentals readily available and an easily accessible launch, it is effortless to experience the Loxahatchee River like never before.

3. Get to Know the Wildman of the Loxahatchee – Trapper Nelson

Loxahatchee wetlands

Become captivated by the thrilling story of Trapper Nelson, the legendary “Wildman of the Loxahatchee,” and embark on an exhilarating journey to explore his 1920s homestead. This adventure transports visitors back in time to experience the untamed spirit of old Florida through the lens of this extraordinary settler. Initially settling on the Loxahatchee to trap and sell furs, Nelson built a wildlife zoo and other remarkable sites, which gained mass popularity in the 1930s through the 1960s. Accessible by pontoon boat, this 2-hour guided tour allows visitors immerse themselves in the legend and see first-hand the remnants of Nelson’s zoo and other sites he crafted along the Loxahatchee River.

4. Climb South Florida’s Mount Everest

woman looking over Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Accessible by boardwalk, the Hobe Mountain Observation Tower is the only place in South Florida where visitors can hike to the top of an ancient sand dune. Rising 86 feet above sea level, this crown jewel presents panoramic vistas from the Atlantic Ocean to the entire park. Climbers to revel in panoramic views of encompassing majestic waves, lush forests, meandering waterways, and vibrant ecosystems. Experience the interconnected beauty of nature from every vantage point.

5. Treasure Hunt Through the Wilderness

Embark on a treasure hunt like no other. Utilizing a hand-held GPS device, geocaching is a game that combines modern technology with nature. Use the device as a compass and navigate trails and solve puzzles while discover hidden caches with surprises. Although the game gives visitors the opportunity to experience the park up close, geocaching maintains an ethical and minimal impact on the environment. Let the thrill of the search awaken the spirit of adventure, while reveling the beauty of nature through geocaching.

6. Camp Under the Stars

Experience the true essence of Florida’s wilderness by spending a night under the stars at Johnathon Dickinson State Park. With a range of campsite options available, including primitive, RV, and equestrian sites, the park caters to all types of campers. For a touch of comfort, indulge in the cozy cabins nestled near the picturesque Loxahatchee River, offering a comfortable bedroom, living area, bathroom, and kitchen. Embrace the serenity, gather around a campfire, and create cherished memories under the starry skies.

7. Experience the Innovative Auto Tour

Immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of Johnathan Dickinson State Park from the comfort of your own vehicle. Johnathan Dickinson State Park Auto Tour, otherwise known as the JDSP Auto Tour, is a self-guided expedition that allows visitors to explore every corner of the park at their own pace. Lasting a little over an hour, cruise along the well-maintained roads and marvel at the diverse landscapes, vibrant ecosystems, and captivating landmarks that define this natural gem. Ignite your sense of wonder and create cherished memories without having to leave the car.

8. Explore Miles of Biking and Hiking Trails

Jonathan Dickinson State Park overlook of the boardwalk
With over 20 miles of hiking trails, Johnathan Dickinson Park has trails for both beginners and seasoned experts. Journey through the captivating landscape of pine flatwoods, with towering slash pines and lush saw palmetto bushes. The park offers a diverse range of trails, catering to hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Whether you prefer paved paths or off-road trails, you can immerse yourself in the unique natural beauty of the park. Prepare for an adventure filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, invigorating outdoor activities, and a deep connection with nature at Johnathan Dickinson State Park.

9. Picnic with an Unbeatable View

Indulge in a riverside picnic on a sunny day at the River Area of Johnathan Dickinson State Park. Complete with pavilions, tables, and grills, visitors have everything they need to relax and enjoy their meal along this waterfront setting. After grabbing a bite, cool off by plunging into the refreshing waters of the Loxahatchee River. Spend the afternoon swimming, splashing, and embracing the joy of this natural oasis. This idyllic combination of riverside dining and leisurely swimming guarantees an unforgettable day of relaxation and enjoyment at Johnathan Dickinson State Park’s River Area.

10. Guided Adventures For the Whole Family

hiking in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

On every Friday at 2pm, Johnathon Dickinson State Park hosts a guided nature walk through the park. Visitors of all ages can participate in this guided tour, promising an enriching experience for the whole family. Stroll through the scenic trails and learn fascinating facts about the native flora and fauna from the park’s knowledgeable guides. The Friday nature walk at Johnathan Dickinson State Park is an ideal choice to connect with nature, create lasting memories, and deepen your appreciation for the remarkable wildlife of Florida.

Future Outdoor Destinations to Explore in Martin County

Celebrating the natural beauty of South Florida, a new community concept is wholeheartedly embracing its surroundings, placing open spaces and clean water initiatives at the forefront of its design. Storie is a vision that has yet to be fully unveiled, but the designers are placing a high priority on providing ample spaces for residents and wildlife alike to enjoy. New parks and fields, educational opportunities, an open-air amphitheater, a vibrant village center, and plentiful outdoor activities are just the beginning of ways this eco-minded neighborhood would bring together the community. To receive a copy of the Storie Time magazine with more details on the vision for this community, or to be among the first to see the vision video upon its release, register your interest at

Storie Magazine Cover


Register today to receive a copy as soon as it publishes!

I'm a Broker/Realtor