At an important archaeological site along the Indian River Lagoon, the trail circling the Seminole Rest unit of Canaveral National Seashore provides excellent interpretation of the many layers of human habitation found here.
While short, this accessible path steps you back in time while featuring sweeping views of a wild portion of the North Indian River Lagoon also known locally as the Mosquito Lagoon.
Location: Oak Hill
Length: 0.3-mile accessible loop
Fees / Permits: none
Restroom: vault toilet
Land Manager: National Park Service
Dogs are not permitted at Seminole Rest. Out of respect to Native Americans who consider this site sacred, please stay on the paved path and boardwalks provided and do not climb the ancient midden. A kayak launch is provided at the north edge of the park.
A paved path, the Seminole Rest Trail provides an accessible stroll along the edge of the Indian River Lagoon, looping its namesake homestead. Keep right to follow the path towards the lagoon first.
A side path leads down to a small beach. It’s from here that kayakers can launch and paddle down into the wilder parts of Canaveral National Seashore, or up past the homes and campgrounds of Oak Hill to Riverbreeze Park, just 2.3 miles north.
As the path turns to follow the shore, you’ll notice the massive rise to the left. Topped with ancient cedars and live oaks, this midden is even more ancient. Archaeological digs have confirmed it is several millennia old.
It was a coastal encampment for Florida’s earliest indigenous peoples, dating back to before 2000 B.C. In more modern times, when the Europeans first set foot on Florida’s shores, the Ais and Timucua tribes lived here.
The midden was once much larger. It was marked “Live Oak Hill” on navigational maps, which is where the name of this community, Oak Hill, came from. Locals called it “Sam’s Hill.”
The Instone House, a plantation home built before the 1890s, sits atop the midden. The caretaker’s home, similarly painted and of the same vintage, sits closer to the water.
Before the British owner of the plantation sold it to the Snyder family, he allowed more than 200 railroad cars worth of oyster shells to be removed from the midden, sold to be used for roadfill.
Coming to a dock that provides a nice viewpoint over the lagoon, the trail swoops upwards onto the hill past the caretaker’s cottage. The Instone House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, opens for tours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Once you leave the porch of this vintage home, the trail guides you around the back side of the midden, paralleling a mangrove-lined slough.
Slideshow from Seminole Rest
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