Straddling the sandy uplands of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary protects 1,500 acres of pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, scrub forest, and wetlands that were once slated to become a mega-development along Interstate 95. As it adjoins Buck Lake Conservation Area, the preserve forms an important wildlife corridor to the St. Johns River basin. An extensive multi-use trail network has been established east of I-95, and the Coast to Coast Connector will eventually traverse the western portion of the sanctuary.
Location: Scottsmoor / Mims
Length: Loops of 1.6 to 5.1 miles
Lat-Lon: 28.764242,-80.881636 (Parrish Park) and 28.745955,-80.882996 (Independence Dr)
Type: trail network (loop)
Fees / Permits: free
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: minimal to moderate
Restroom: at Parrish Park trailhead
Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary opens 7 am and closes at dusk. Pets are not permitted. Trails are open to hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. The sanctuary is managed as part of the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program of Brevard County.
The primary trailheads are accessible from Parrish Park in Scottsmoor, just west of US 1 at the end of Magoon Ave. Both are somewhat hidden; you won’t see them from your car. One is north of the entrance road/ballfields and the other is behind the maintenance shed south of the parking area. The southern trailhead is at the north end of International Ave north of Golden Shores Blvd in Mims, but there are only two parking spaces at that entrance.
We were trying to follow the route of the Coast to Coast Connector, a bike path under development from Titusville to St. Peterburg, when we stumbled across a vast swath of public land that neither of us had heard about. Surprisingly, it’s right off US 1, but there are no signs to direct you to its trailheads. It’s the Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary, more than 1,500 acres of uplands and wetlands straddling Interstate 95 around the exit for SR 5A.
We found the western side first, as the C2C tunnels straight into it off Aurantia Rd, right under I-95. Our attempts to get into the sanctuary from Rose Marie Dr didn’t work, and now we understand why: that side of the preserve isn’t open yet. However, the trail system is now complete in Scottsmoor Flatwoods East. Entering through the International Ave trailhead, we met a caretaker working on the trails, and learned that the Parrish Park trailheads are now open, too.
The trail system has a 6.1-mile outer loop marked in red, an equestrian loop of 4.3 miles marked in yellow, and a shorter loop, 1.6 miles, marked in blue and accessed from Parrish Park. You can use any segments of these criss-crossing trails to make up your own length of day hike. Since the primary habitat is scrubby flatwoods, expect a minimum of shade and some soggy areas in low-lying swales.
With it being the hottest part of the day – and threatening storms again, like the morning – we didn’t venture far on the trails. But knowing how easily accessible this preserve is, we’ll be back later this year to fill you in on all the trail details. Meanwhile, go explore!