One of a string of scrub preserves that sprinkle the Space Coast between Titusville and Fellsmere, Dicerandra Scrub protects a sliver of scrub along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge.
Edged in on three sides by subdivisions, with a large flatwoods pond on its eastern rim, it surprised us with its resident Florida scrub-jay families.
Named for rare Dicerandra Thinicola, also known as Titusville balm, a scrub mint found nowhere else in the world but Titusville, the preserve is primarily scrub habitat.
The mile-long loop explores only one corner of the preserve, the remainder left untouched for the sake of birds, plants, and research.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 1 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.551738, -80.810806
Address: 4900 Melissa Dr, Titusville
Land manager: Brevard County
Open sunrise to sunset. No pets or bicycles permitted.
Parking is limited to street parking outside the gate of the preserve in a residential neighborhood. Take care not to block any driveways or the gate.
From the junction of US 1 and SR 50 in Titusville, drive west 0.7 mile to Key Largo Dr. Turn south and continue through the neighborhood to the first right, Karen Dr. Make the next right onto Melissa Dr, which dead-ends at the gate to the preserve.
Your hike starts at the entrance gate, where a pass-thru stile leads to a kiosk with a trail map. There are several options for traversing the preserve.
Blazed with directional arrows on markers, the primary trail heads straight ahead, descending through scrubby flatwoods past the kiosk.
With the extent of new construction changing hydrology since the preserve was established, the flatwoods pond at the base of the small bluff often swamps the trail.
If that’s the case, backtrack to the kiosk, follow the fenceline west from the kiosk, and turn right at the first forest road to find the trail crossing.
Otherwise walk (or plunge) forward along the marshy edge of this vast flatwoods pond, an oasis at a low point below the scrub. Aquatic plants grow close enough to touch.
The trail weaves through the pines at the edge of the marsh, meeting the forest road at a marked crossing. This is the start of the loop. Turn right.
The trail parallels the road on its scrub side, since the flatwoods pond side has made a habit of spilling into the grassy, sometimes muddy expanse.
The well-worn footpath keeps you out of that mess, but at the expense of skipping past trail markers that might take a mucky wade to reach.
At not quite a quarter mile, a marker points you to the left off the sand road and into crunchy hollows beneath the pines.
Enjoy this one decent up-close panorama across the flatwoods pond before the trail leads you into the heart of the scrub.
The sounds of Titusville pulsate through the air: industrial noises, traffic from nearby SR 50. This is not a quiet hike.
But if you think you heard a scrub-jay chirp, stop, look, and listen. We found them eying us from tall pines, perhaps an adaptation for urban life, away from the reach of cats.
Around you are Chapman oak, myrtle oak, more greenbrier, and towering longleaf pines, obvious by the size of their pine cones.
The understory is dense, and with the exception of the pines, the plants particularly diminutive.
An unmarked junction has a spur trail to the right that leads to a high point in the preserve, worth the tenth of a mile side trip for the view across the scrub.
A firebreak along a fence lined with high-tension lines marks the boundary of the preserve. The trail to the right exits the preserve. Return to the loop and turn right.
As you gain elevation along the main trail, the Titusville water tower peeks over the ridge uphill to the right.
Due to prescribed burns that keep the scrub healthy, you may encounter a fair amount of blackened wood and deadfall.
At 0.4 mile there is a bench along the trail at a tiny cove in the forest, a place to sit and listen for towhees and scrub-jays.
We had an up-close encounter here with a Florida scrub-jay landing in a nearby Chapman oak, which dominates this understory.
Continue to walk towards the water tower for nearly another quarter mile as the habitat transitions from diminutive scrub to scrubby flatwoods.
Sand pine scrub tops the next high point on the ridge, where you can look back across the preserve.
Ducking past fallen sand pines loaded with tightly closed pine cones, shield lichen, and wisps of old man’s beard, the trail flattens out.
It heads towards a towering stand of longleaf pine, passing a silk bay, “aromatherapy tree” of the scrub. Crush a leaf and it emits an aroma like eucalyptus oil.
A sharp turn east, and the trail rambles down a tunnel of scrubby flatwoods. Saw palmetto becomes more prevalent in the understory.
After 0.9 mile, close the loop just past an interpretive sign for the Florida scrub-jay, reaching the forest road again.
Head straight ahead to exit along the edge of the marsh if the trail wasn’t underwater. If it was (or you want a different route) turn right.
The forest road comes to a T intersection. Left leads to the trailhead, completing the mile-long hike.
Right follows the fenceline with the adjoining neighborhood, worth your while if you’re birding.
That particular perimeter road meets a locked gate at the back of the preserve, a 0.6-mile round-trip to make this a 1.5-mile walk.
See our photos of Dicerandra Scrub Sanctuary
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
One of Titusville’s hidden gems, the Wuesthoff Trail offers a surprising roller-coaster of elevation changes along a strip of sand pine scrub topping the Atlantic Coast Ridge.
It’s not rocket science: the first and finest of the Brevard Environmental Endangered Lands, Enchanted Forest Sanctuary in Titusville is a fabulous destination for family hiking.
Buffering a green ribbon of Indian River Lagoon shoreline from US 1, Chain of Lakes Park offers dozens of ways to put together a walk through the wetlands.