A breezy walk along the St. Johns River is an easy way to start your day in Jacksonville at the Arlington Park. With a 3/4-mile unpaved trail, 1/4-mile accessible trail, and connecting boardwalks along the river, all with plenty of park benches for resting, this trail system is a comfortable excursion for visitors of all ages and abilities. Partially in a shady hammock and partially along the river and tidal marsh as it touches Blue Cypress Park, it provides excellent opportunities for birding and wildlife watching along the scenic river walk.
Length: 1.1 miles
Lat-Long: 30.376967, -81.618467
Type: loop and linear
Fees / Permits: none
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: Not on my last visit
Open sunrise to sunset. Wheelchairs cannot traverse the 0.5 mile natural segment of the trail, but if you make a right at the trailhead, you can follow the asphalt path around to enjoy the boardwalk section of the trail along the river. There is a manatee exhibit at boat ramp, plus picnic groves, playground, and fishing from the pier at Blue Cypress Park.
Arlington Lions Club Park (904-573-2498), 4322-1 Richard Denby Gatlin Rd, Jacksonville FL
From 9A south of the St. Johns River, exit on Merrill Rd. Drive west 3 miles to University Blvd. Turn right. Drive 2 miles north, past the entrance to Blue Cypress Park, to Denby Gatlin Rd. Turn left. The park entrance is at the end of the road. Park your car in the first parking area on the left.
Start at the Nature Trail sign and make a left to begin your walk on a natural footpath through a shady river bluff forest, where slash pine, Southern Magnolia, and sparkleberry eclipse the forest. Ferns fill the damp spaces. After paralleling the park road, the trail begins its loop along the edge of a tidal marsh, passing through tall groves of pines.
The natural surface ends after 0.5 mile. Turn left to follow a paved trail to the boardwalk along the St. Johns River and the tidal marsh. Turn left on the boardwalk to walk down to the observation platform at Blue Cypress Park. Return along the boardwalk to complete the loop.