It is the New Year, so what is your New Year’s Resolution? If it is a get healthy both inside and out, we have a perfect way for you to fulfill your goals. Get out and visit one of the more than 23 parks and preserves supported by the Timucuan Parks Foundation. It is good for both your physical and mental health. A walk in the park can provide you with a sense of relaxation and well-being and Jacksonville has one of the largest park systems in the U.S. with more than 100 miles of upland trails and hundreds of miles of water trails, and many are available to you for free.
Instead of buying a treadmill or joining a gym, head out to a park and go for a hike or run. The Theodore Roosevelt Area in East Arlington is a 600-acre natural area that has more than five miles of hiking trails. It has some elevation changes that give you a great workout.
Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve in southwest Duval County is a great place to take a run, hike or bike ride. It has nice wide trails that will take you just over six miles round-trip through sandhill to lower flatwood to lush floodplain swamp and marshes. Equestrians are also welcome. Julington-Durbin Creeks themselves offer a quiet wilderness-like waterway for canoeing or kayaking.
You can also ride horseback on the north side of town at Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park. The park protects one of the largest areas of coastal uplands and provides more than 16 miles of trails for you to get your legs moving and enjoy the fresh air. You can also bring your canoe or kayak and check out the creeks and marshes that connect a number of parks and preserves in the area.
There are choices on the east side of town as well. Check out Castaway Island Preserve with a shorter hike on paved trails (great for small children or those with mobility challenges) and/or enjoy the three miles of trails at Dutton Island Preserve. Visit Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park for more than 20 miles of scenic trails for hiking or biking, or make reservations for camping and make a weekend of it.
Studies have shown being in nature helps to ease your mind and is being more frequently prescribed by doctors. It can help in the treatment of a number of ailments including anxiety, depression, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and even some arthritis. Hiking is also a great cardio workout. It can strengthen your core, build strength in your hips and lower legs, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels and lower your risk of heart disease.
Throughout the year, we bring the community together and organize group hikes and events at local parks and preserves. Join us for one of our hikes or get out on your own and get healthy at our local parks. Our local guide to our area parks is available to you; check out our website at timucuanparks.org. Our map includes icons to show you whether there is hiking, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, camping, and if you can bring your dog with you to help them get a little exercise in the new year as well. You can also find our group events on our calendar. Our parks provide a sense of place and a sense of well-being. We look forward to seeing you on the trails!