On a ribbon of public land buffering the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville, Chain of Lakes Park provides a chain of four paved loop trails nearly four miles long.
With the Florida East Coast Railroad forming a barrier, this 92 acre park has no waterfront on the lagoon. But it has plenty of fresh water waterfront, busy with birds, thanks to the lakes.
The park offers a gradient from groomed to wild, with ballfields on its US 1 side and natural wetlands between its man-made “lakes” and the lagoon.
These serve as stormwater filtration as water flows through mangrove forests and willow marshes to the east. You get a nice overview of those marshes from the park’s tall observation tower.
The four linked loops, with bridges and natural paths interconnecting them, enable you to scale your hike to any distance from a half mile on up.
Thanks to the park’s direct access via bike path to the Brevard Coast to Coast Trail / East Coast Greenway, it serves as a trailhead for cyclists along that linear bike path paralleling US 1.
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Length: 3.9 miles in four loops
Trailhead: 28.6422, -80.8248
Address: 2300 Truman Scarborough Way, Titusville FL 32796
Restroom: Near the ballfields
Land manager: Brevard County
Open daily dawn to dusk. Service animals only. The lakes are posted no swimming, and when you see the size of the alligators sunning here, you’ll know why.
Playgrounds are located closest to the park’s entrance road, as are the ballfields. Numerous benches are provided around the loops but none are shaded.
From Interstate 95 in Titusville, follow SR 405 (Garden Street) east to US 1 northbound. Continue 2.5 miles north, passing Parrish Medical Center and Eastern Florida State College on the right before you reach the traffic light for Dairy Rd / Truman Scarborough Way. This light serves as the crossing point for cyclists heading to the Florida Coast to Coast Trail on the west side of US 1. Turn right and follow the road into the park. The largest parking area is the second left along this road.
Since the trails are open to both hiking and biking, we’ve tackled them in a mulitude of configurations and for distances up to 9 miles by repeating loops.
On a bike, breezing through the northern ballfields counterlockwise is a good way to start. By foot, we prefer diving into the wooded footpath off the main parking area. It is not accessible.
Walk around the gate and follow the palm-shaded path to a T intersection. Turn left. Go straight ahead at the next junction down a corridor of tropical forest blocking the ballfields from view.
When that long, straight (and seasonally buggy) path meets the paved upper loop, turn right. This starts your clockwise circumambulation around the park.
As the trail detaches from the northern boundary of the park to follow the curve of the lake, notice a dense forest of white mangroves forms a boundary on the left. Pass a sun-drenched bench.
At 0.7 mile, the first bridge you come to leads back to that wooded corridor you walked in on, enabling a quick, scenic 0.9 mile loop back to the parking area.
To stay with the outer loop, continue past it to a weir. A boardwalk provides elevation over the weir, which can be crossed when dry.
Flocks of ibis often gather in this area, and alligators cruise in the open water and nestle along the shoreline. Pass another bench in this stretch.
When the trail curves east, the observation tower comes into view. At 0.9 miles, you reach the tower.
The climb is well worth it for the view. It sweeps across the lagoon to Merritt Island and up towards the NASA satellite tracking station north of Haulover Canal.
Beyond the tower, the next weir and boardwalk is along a willow marsh. We’ve caught alligators sunning on the concrete, so we take the boardwalk here.
This weir is just shy of the bridge defining the second loop in the Chain of Lakes, which crosses a narrow point at 1.1 miles.
A return to your car up the lake-hugging route from this point nets a 1.6 mile hike. Our walk stays on the east side of the lakes, not crossing the bridge.
The long straightaway that follows, bordered by waterway and forest, is where we’ve encountered a lot of limpkins. Herons are also commonplace throughout the park.
At the next curve, the third weir comes into view, another area where we’ve seen alligators along the shoreline.
Follow the boardwalk around, with the south end of the lake and the hospital beyond it coming into view.
At 1.5 miles, the trail reaches its curve around the south end of the lake. But there’s another, hidden loop.
Use the path towards Grove Road ahead and turn left to follow the bike path that parallels the road past a homestead.
Grove Road ends, but the path makes a sharp right and keeps going, right up to another weir. The trees here are much taller, the feel more tropical.
Cross the weir and continue southbound, paralleling the railroad and the woods, before the trail makes a sharp right. Do not cross the weir ahead.
Follow the undulating path between the trees. This final pond has a fountain in it, which always forms a rainbow in the sunshine.
Arcing around the pond you come to a side path to the hospital and a picnic shelter and restroom at 2.1 miles.
Continue along the Rainbow Pond, and a short bridge takes you across the canal. The trail jogs left and then cuts through the woods. It emerges at Grove Road.
Turn right, and you will see where you joined this fourth loop at the south end of the third pond. Cross Grove Road to start your way up the west side of the Chain of Lakes.
Walking up the west side of the lakes, the grassy expanse to your left is far less interesting that watching the waterway on your right.
By 2.8 miles, you reach the bridge at the north end of the third lake. Turn left here onto an unpaved path, which leads due west before it swings north over a culvert.
A ribbon of cabbage palm hammock fronts the lake on the right, with the ballfields to the left. The trail forks at 3 miles. Follow the path to the right to the edge of the lake.
A small fishing pier provides a place to pause and watch wildlife. Beyond it, the trail curves away from the lake around a retention pond.
Watch for the bridge on the right and cross it. The T intersection on its far side is your final decision point for this hike.
If you turn right, you are back in the woods again, and can return to your car via the next left for a 3.3 mile hike.
Turning left lets you complete the perimeter of the north loop. Follow the path out to the entrance road and turn right on the road into the parking area.
Continue through the parking area and due north between the ballfields, passing the concession stands. By 3.5 miles you’re at the northern parking lot.
Follow the curve of the trail east along the park’s perimeter, paralleling Jay Jay Rd and the soccer field. When you come to the wooded corridor just past the field, turn right.
Continue along this route you came in on. Make that final right out to the parking area, walking around the gate, to wrap a 3.9 mile hike.
Learn more about the Coast to Coast Trail
The eastern terminus of the state-spanning Coast to Coast Trail is in the trail town of Titusville, where a ride on the Brevard Coast to Coast Trail provides cyclists the best ride in the county
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