Transitioning from pine flatwoods to scrub before tunneling into a dense floodplain forest in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Port St. Lucie, the Halpatiokee Nature Trail at Savannas Preserve State Park provides an intimate look at how ecosystems vary over a few feet of elevation between the uplands near US 1 and the mangrove-lined channel on Evans Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the St. Lucie River.
Sadly, if you thought preserved lands were preserved forever, it all depends on politics, and right now an effort is underway to build a cross-town expressway and bridge over the river right through this section of Savannas Preserve State Park and this nature trail. The Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County is actively fighting this plan.
Location: Port St. Lucie
Length: 0.8 mile
Lat-Long: 27.305467, -80.309367
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: moderate to high
Manatees have been spotted from the dock on Evans Creek.
The trailhead is along US 1 on the west side of the highway, 0.7 mile north of Walton Road. It is 2.7 miles northwest of the Savannas Preserve State Park Education Center on Walton Road.
While the straight-line Main Trail provides access to a dock on Evans Creek – a stopover point for paddlers exploring the North Fork St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve – the Loop Trail that ducks into the forest is far more interesting. Boardwalks cross the wettest areas. Dense ferns abound in the jungle-like wetlands.
Enjoy the serene setting of Evans Creek, an oxbow of the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, at the dock while scanning for green herons and white ibis. Take the Main Trail out and return along the Loop Trail for a different look at the habitats.
Our thanks to Lori Burris for providing updated photography and trail data for this hike.