Atop a segment of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, Brevard Zoo Linear Park centers on a recycled plastic boardwalk along a narrow strip of land fronting Interstate 95 north of the zoo.
While this makes for traffic noise and occasional glimpses of passing cars, this trail connects the zoo complex and the Pineda Causeway with a way for hikers and cyclists to enjoy the wetlands.
The trail follows a portion of the Hernandez-Capron Trail built along the coast while Florida was a colony of Spain.
Interpretive signs along the route range from cultural history to facts about specific wetland creatures, making this an educational walk as well.
A partnership between the Brevard Zoo and county parks, the boardwalk is maintained by the zoo and was built on land donated by the Duda family.
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Length: 2.6 miles linear
Trailhead: 28.222057, -80.714117
Address: End of Murrell Rd inside the zoo gates
Land manager: Brevard County
Open 7 AM to 7 PM. When the gates are closed at both ends, the trail is closed.
Bicycles are permitted but please use caution when passing hikers, and when the boardwalk is wet.
The trail is mostly in the open so plan for sun exposure and carry enough water for your walk. It makes a good out-and-back hike and serves local residents as a place to exercise.
From Interstate 95 in Viera, take exit 191 for N Wickham Rd and drive east one block to Murrell Rd, where large signs announce the entrance to the Brevard Zoo. Follow this road all the way past the zoo parking areas to where the road ends at a circle. The parking for Linear Park is on the right just before the circle.
If the zoo gates are closed, the trail may still be accessible off the trailhead along Pineda Causeway Ext, one exit south on Interstate 95. That trailhead can only be reached from the westbound lanes of the highway, so turning around at the traffic light at Estuary Blvd is necessary.
Follow the sidewalk around past the big Brevard Zoo Linear Park sign past the park benches to the start of the boardwalk under the pines.
The first section of trail is close enough to the enclosures at the south end of the zoo to hear it. Peacocks wail and other random noises rise from beyond the trees along the perimeter fence.
Leaving the first boardwalk, the trail becomes a broad sidewalk curving by a maintenance gate for the zoo. Come to the first grouping of benches in the shade. There will be more rest stops like this.
At the “Walk an Ancient Trail” sign, the longest boardwalk starts in earnest. Look down into the wetlands to see herons and egrets picking through the grasses.
Interstate 95 makes its noisy debut here, clearly visible beyond the marsh. The boardwalk runs down the middle of a strip of marsh to meet an island of pines.
As marsh yields to pines, pass another rest stop. Once it is among the pines and oaks, the boardwalk makes a sharp turn.
There is a gap in it briefly at a spot labeled Truck Crossing before it resumes again, curving away from the interstate and climbing.
It reaches an overlook on Richard M. Gramling Pond, an excellent place to linger for birding. Look for alligators, too.
Along the straightaway, the boardwalk suspends you over pine flatwoods with a dense and damp understory. Traffic noise dampens thanks to the thick vegetation.
Ferns and grapevines dominate the forest floor, and there is an unfortunate amount of Brazilian pepper, a real scourge in Brevard County.
A marker gives you a heads-up that you’ve walked a half mile. As the forest floor gets wetter, sweetgum and red maple begin to dominate, casting a little bit of shade.
We turned around at 3/4 mile for a 1.5-mile round-trip walk. But the trail keeps going, reaching the side path at Pineda Causeway after 2.6 miles.
Driving down Pineda Causeway later in the year, we noticed a trailhead sign and cars parked at the south end of Linear Park.
For the sake of local residents, the boardwalk continues under the highway and heads south to reach a cul-de-sac at the north end of Turtle Mound Rd.
If you add that 0.6 mile linear piece to your hike, you can tackle a 6.4 mile round-trip from the trailhead at the Brevard Zoo, or make a 1.4-mile round trip south from the South Trailhead.
We encountered more cyclists than walkers that day, probably because it was in the heat of summer but also because this makes for a nice ride connecting to the Viera side paths.
See our video of Brevard Zoo Linear Park
See our photos of Brevard Zoo Linear Park
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