Two scenic overlooks at the end of two accessible trails highlight the location of the 1738 settlement of Fort Mose, the first colony of free Africans in the colonies before the United States was formed.
Location: St. Augustine
Length: 1 mile in three short segments
Fees: Free. $2 per person to tour the museum
Open: 9-5 daily
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
The state park is located off US 1 northbound, just north of the St. Augustine city gates. Look for signs.
Separated by a sidewalk that hugs the parking area and is lined with interpretive panels about the creation, decline, and abandonment of the colony at Fort Mose, several different short trails offer perspectives on this edge of the Tolomato River estuary. The settlement itself was not on this shoreline, but on a prominent island you can see from two boardwalks. Both boardwalks are wheelchair accessible. Start with the one farthest away from the visitor center, at the south end of the parking lot. It is the larger and more prominent of the two.
Leading out across the estuary, it spans over a tidal creek to an island topped with cedars and oaks. An observation deck showcases the panorama across the marshes towards Vilano Beach. The large island to the left with the tall pines was the location of Fort Mose. During our visit, great blue herons were busy building nests in the tallest trees.
Backtrack to the parking area and take the next – non-accessible – pathway out along a berm. This out-and-back offers up views of the boardwalk you just walked, with a couple of overlooks on a tidal pond, a good place for birding.
Walk up to the visitor center and behind it. The sidewalk leads to a second boardwalk, this one out to the kayak launch and boat dock. From the dock, you have an even clearer view of the island and its bird life.
See our overview of the trails and museum at Fort Mose