Protecting 61 acres of what was an early Bahamian settlement along the Indian River Lagoon, Gomez Preserve is well hidden from casual view.
Accessible only by a traverse of the East Coast Greenway, where it functions as a nice rest stop, it lies halfway between trailhead parking at Seabranch Preserve and Peck Lake Park.
Access to the Gomez Preserve Nature Trail is a mile north of the parking area at Peck Lake Park and 1.5 miles south of the parking area off A1A for Seabranch Preserve State Park.
While the limerock path winding through the preserve is only 0.3 mile long, it’s the getting there and back that piles up your mileage.
Your choice of route lies in your interest in the terrain in-between. From the south end, the approach along the East Coast Greenway is a sidewalk in a tropical area adjoining a dead end road.
The sidewalk becomes a broader paved bike path after the road ends, with visual confirmation of the southern access point for the preserve soon after.
From the north end, you’ll be inside Seabranch Preserve State Park for two-thirds of the approach route, but the scrub habitat is largely open and hot.
The bike path parallels A1A for some time before making a series of scenic turns through the scrub, crossing the Yellow Trail twice before exiting the park.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Hobe Sound
Length: 2.5 mile round-trip with loop
Trailhead: 27.1064, -80.1483
Address: 8108 Gomez Ave, Hobe Sound
Restroom: Along the parking circle
Land manager: Martin County
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. No camping or alcohol permitted.
A picnic pavilion is supplied at the north end and a shaded bench at the south end of the preserve. The trail is a hard-packed natural limerock suitable for hiking and biking.
From Interstate 95 exit 96 drive east 6.2 miles along SE Bridge Rd to the traffic light for US 1 in Hobe Sound. Cross the highway and follow Bridge Rd through downtown Hobe Sound, making a left onto SE Gomez Avenue just past the traffic light for A1A. Follow SE Gomez Ave north for 3.3 miles to the Peck Lake Park entrance on the right, a half mile north of Jimmy Graham Park Rd. Park at the first lot inside the gate.
We explored Gomez Preserve as part of a round-trip bicycle between Seabranch and Peck Lake on a very hot day, and so recommend the shorter southerly approach for those on foot.
Leaving Peck Lake Park–where parking is available both along the park loop and right by a picnic shelter near the entrance–cross Gomez Rd and turn right on the sidwalk across from the park entrance.
This narrow sidewalk parallels SE Gomez Rd to a dead end, passing a gated subdivision and a small industrial plant before reaching a dedicated bike path.
Here, 0.8 mile north of Peck Lake Park, signage for the East Coast Greenway confirms you are on the correct route.
Pass by the southern entrance of Gomez Preserve with its prominent sign and continue to the northern entrance at 1.2 miles.
No matter which route you take to reach the preserve, we prefer this entrance thanks to its large picnic chickee affording a stop for shade.
It’s adjoined by a bike rack, a trash can, and an odd device that looks like a set of drums but is the first of a series of pieces of exercise equipment along the path.
From here, the trail winds in a southerly direction through pine/palm flatwoods that, by the types of vegetation found here, show that this was once a homestead.
While relatively broad around its middle, the trail narrow before and after to pass between tall pines and cabbage palms. The first curves and straightaways offer little shade.
The path narrows as it enters a denser pine forest, and pieces of exercise equipment are tucked in little shady niches along the route.
Walls of saw palmetto buffer portions of the trail, and the appearance of marsh ferns belie moister spots in the habitat.
While the preserve extends to the Indian River Lagoon, there are presently no walkways or boardwalks reaching in that direction.
The nature trail runs firmly north-south, paralleling the East Coast Greenway but well out of sight of it.
A final set of curves leads to another manmade shady spot, a chickee with a park bench.
Emerging from the forest, the pathway reaches the southern attachment to the East Coast Greenway after 1.5 miles.
Turn left if you came from Peck Lane Park to return along the same route for a 2.5 mile hike, or right if you came from Seabranch for a 3.5 mile hike.
Explore Peck Lake Park and Seabranch Preserve
Peck Lake Park
In a hidden corner of Hobe Sound, Peck Lake Park lets you tunnel through coastal habitats along the Pioneer Passage to an observation point along the Indian River Lagoon.
Seabranch Preserve State Park
Find a wonderland of white sand and small shrubs at Seabranch Preserve State Park, which protects a sand pine scrub and more along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge
See our photos of Gomez Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
Straddling both sides of the Indian River Lagoon between Hobe Sound and Tequesta, this refuge provides both sea turtle nesting grounds and Florida scrub-jay habitat.
Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail
61 miles. A spur of the Florida Trail that leads from Port Mayaca on the east side of Lake Okeechobee to Hobe Sound Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, treating hikers to unexpected wild landscapes north of West Palm Beach.
Maggy’s Hammock Park
Formerly known as Rocky Point Hammock, Maggy’s Hammock Park protects 22 acres of tropical forest and scrub on the Atlantic Coastal Ridge in Port Salerno
St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park
On the north tip of Jupiter Island, St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park is one of those rare parks that you can only reach by boat – motored, or under your own power, as most visitors do, by paddling through mangrove-lined coves.