At the mouth of the St. Johns River, Jacksonville is the site of the landing of the first French fleet to reach the shores of North America, as commemorated at the Ribault Column on the river’s bluffs.
The colony at Fort Caroline was short-lived because the Spanish, having settled in St. Augustine, weren’t about to allow their enemies to claim this land for France.
Jacksonville contains dozens of neighborhoods, from Arlington to Southside, and small communities with their own identities.
There are oceanfront towns like Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach as well as historic communities like Baldwin and Mandarin.
All 918 square miles of Duval County is incorporated into the City of Jacksonville, making it Florida’s largest city.
Jacksonville has two National Parks. The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve interprets the French settlement the native Timucua they encountered.
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor traces the history of enslaved Africans. Jacksonville is its south end; it extends from the Carolina coast.
The East Coast Greenway follows the coastline. Using the St. Johns River Ferry, it crosses the St. Johns River near within sight of where Florida’s longest river meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Trails and Parks Around Jacksonville
While public lands in the metro area tend to be small with shorter trails, you’ll be surprised at the more extensive day use trail systems along the St. Johns River and the Northshore.
For backpacking, head west to Jennings State Forest and Simmons State Forest or to intercept the Florida Trail at Keystone Heights and Osceola National Forest.
Consult the map at the top of the page for locations of parks and trails, since there are too many to list below. You can see an alphabetized list of all of them on this page.
Best Trails and Parks in the Jacksonville Metro
INCLUDES: Baldwin, Fort George Island, Jacksonville Beaches, Mandarin, Mayport, Northshore, Talbot Islands | NEARBY: Amelia Island, Callahan, Fernandina Beach, Green Cove Springs, Middleburg, Orange Park, St. Augustine | ALONG: Atlantic Coastal Ridge, Atlantic Ocean, St. Johns River | PART OF: North Florida