Amelia Island is home to one of Florida’s oldest settlements, Fernandina Beach. In 1562, the French claimed this land, attempting to establish a colony along the St. Johns River to the south. By 1565, the Spanish were running the show. British loyalists, pirates, and Confederates all had their turn for rule over the centuries. Fringed by estuary and beaches, it’s a popular getaway with lodgings spanning the spectrum from camping to upscale resorts.
Trails and Parks in Amelia Island
- Amelia Island State Park - A sweep of Atlantic Coast beach awaits along the southern tip of Amelia Island, where the sand glistens and the surf is frequently up. Amelia Island State Park protects 200 acres along the island's shore.
- Big Talbot Big Pine Trail - The southernmost trail on Big Talbot Island is the 0.8-mile Big Pine Trail, a short walk out to a bluff above the estuary through a maritime hammock riffled by breezes
- Big Talbot Bluffs Beach Walk - At low tide, a walk along Bluffs Beach from the Bluffs Picnic Area of Big Talbot Island State Park brings rewarding views of the unusual black "rocks" and shimmering waters
- Big Talbot Island State Park - For a taste of tidal pools and black rock beaches in Florida, get out of your car and walk down to the unique shoreline of Big Talbot Island State Park.
- Black Rock Trail - An unusual and picturesque geologic anomoly, Blackrock Beach at Big Talbot Island is covered with formations that look like black lava rocks but are made of sand
- Campground Nature Trail - At Little Talbot Island State Park, the 0.8-mile Campground Nature Trail offers a side of Little Talbot that the whole family can enjoy—along the estuary
- Cary Nature Trail - In the 3,413-acre Cary State Forest, the 1.4 mile Cary Nature Trail is hiking only, one among dozens of miles of multi-use trails, a great short walk for kids
- Fernandina Plaza State Park - At Fernandina Plaza State Park, civilizations have made their mark here for more than 4,000 years, with the Spanish touch reaching these shores in the mid-1600s. This unassuming open space marks the spot of Plaza San Carlos, a parade ground for the fortress that protected a fledgling city known as Fernandina.
- Fort Clinch State Park - Fort Clinch State Park offers camping by the sea, and extensive bike trails along a slender peninsula. But the main reason to visit is its namesake. Fort Clinch is one of the largest brick structures in Florida, and a must-see for architecture buffs.
- Fort George Island Cultural State Park - With layer upon layer of human habitation atop the highest hill on the Southeastern Atlantic coast, Fort George Island still shows signs of the human touch: the coastal scrub forest is filling in former golf greens.
- George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park - Once a piece of A1A from Amelia Island to Big Talbot Island, the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier is one of several former highway segments now under the care of Florida State Parks. Open 24 hours, it's popular for sport fishing as well as bringing home a catch for dinner.
- Island Hiking Trail - At Little Talbot Island State Park, the Island Hiking Trail is a 3.5-mile loop that guides you on a scramble over big dunes to a beach walk on the Atlantic Ocean
- John Muir Ecological Park - John Muir Ecological Park in Yulee connects you to an important and mostly forgotten chapter of Florida history: our role in John Muir's "Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf."
- Jones Cut Trail - The 1.5-mile Jones Cut Trail provides a meander into the heart of the maritime forest that carpets Big Talbot Island State Park, but it’s not the easiest trail to find
- Little Talbot Island State Park - With one of the closest wild beaches to Jacksonville, Little Talbot Island State Park is a heavily visited park, and not just for its beaches. Paddling in the estuaries and camping amid the dunes are popular pastimes, too.
- Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park - Within city limits yet truly wild, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park protects more than 4,000 acres as it rambles along the edges of enormous estuaries draining into the St. Johns River.
- Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve Trails - Within the city limits of Jacksonville yet certifiably wild, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve has trails winding through scrub and flatwoods on bluffs above the Nassau River.
- Simmons State Forest - Ralph E. Simmons Memorial State Forest is a place to get away from it all, with more than 9 miles of hiking trails along the St. Marys River at Florida's northeast border.