Another exploration last week was a full morning spent roaming through Riverbend County Park in Jupiter Farms. We’ve waited more than 10 years for this particular park to open, and now I understand why it took that long.
It stands in stark contrast to adjacent Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which is a wild place for hikers seeking a wilderness escape. Riverbend is heavily engineered to provide an outdoors getaway for city folks. The trails are paved with limerock, and try as you might, you’d have a hard time getting lost – there are signposts at every junction and big kiosks with “You are here” maps all over the park. It’s perfect for families with small children, especially in strollers. We met quite a few. The map claims 15 miles of hiking in the park, of which the Ocean-to-Lake Trail is a part; it took Shortcut and I about 3 hours to ramble the whole perimeter and a little of the interior, so we figure that to be a 6-mile loop if you stick to the exterior trails.
I’ll do a full writeup of this one for the Hike-A-Week, since it’s too newly opened to be in any of my guidebooks. Meanwhile, if you’re a little skittish of the woods (heck, we ran into a lady asking the ranger whether there were alligators on the trails) or you have small children or elderly parents who you want to get outdoors, give Riverbend a whirl. The trails are multi-use, so bicycles are okay. There’s an outfitter on site for canoe and kayak rental to explore the signposted canoe trails or paddle downstream to the wild and scenic portion of the Loxahatchee River. The park is located just a mile or so west of Florida’s Turnpike along Indiantown Road in Jupiter on the south side of the road.