A grand stand of healthy pine flatwoods provides a gateway to 53 acres of protected land at Limestone Creek Natural Area, a rare patch of green in a heavily developed corner of Jupiter.
A paved accessible trail winds through the woods to an observation deck and nearby fishing pier on the C-18 Canal, formerly the creek.
Beyond, explore the uplands on more marked trails. Natural-surface trails lead you deeper into the preserve to explore scrub, marsh, and a dense hammock of cabbage palms.
An easy place to stop and explore while traveling through the area, it’s just off the Indiantown exit of Interstate 95 and Florida’s Turnpike.
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Length: 1.1 mile round-trip and loop
Trailhead: 26.94142, -80.13537
Address: 6570 Church Street, Jupiter
Land manager: Palm Beach County
Open sunrise to sunset daily. Dogs are not permitted. A portion of the trail system is accessible. Bicycles are permitted on the multiuse trail. A kayak launch is provided.
From Interstate 95 or Florida’s Turnpike, follow Indiantown Rd east a half mile to the traffic light at Central Blvd. Turn left. After you cross the bridge, turn left on Church St. The trailhead entrance is immediately on the left, past its exit.
Start your hike at the kiosk by signing in at the trail register and grabbing a map. The accessible entrance trail, the Bracken Fern Trail, winds into the woods.
Nicely shaded by a dense stand of South Florida slash pine, which is known for its resistance to disease and insects, the trail is close to a neighboring subdivision.
After a slight jog to the left and a gentle rise, the trail enters an even denser forest, transitioning into scrubby flatwoods. Sand live oaks cast pools of shade.
The dense understory attracts many birds, warbling and rustling in the underbrush. Delicate bromeliads and clumps of ball moss cling to tree branches.
The trail descends into a moist zone thick with cabbage palms, some of which have draping, grass-like shoelace fern growing from their trunks.
Cross a bridge in the hammock. A sluggish trickle of water moves through the remains of an old streambed.
Netted chain and cinnamon ferns grow out of the muck in this lush oasis, as does wild coffee. Laurel oaks provide a dense canopy overhead.
Rise into another stretch of scrubby flatwoods, with scattered pines above, and follow the trail’s meander through it.
Bracken fern grows thickly and fragrant tarflower draws your attention to its blooms.
Emerge onto an access road after a quarter mile and cross it. The accessible trail curves to parallel the C-18 canal, a dredged remnant of the original Limestone Creek.
The sidewalk ends at a covered observation pavilion fronted by mangroves. It used to look over open water, but the vegetation grew in.
Leave the Bracken Fern Trail here and join the access road to walk along the creek to the Gallberry Hiking Trail, which begins at the next kiosk.
Take a walk along the boardwalk for views of Limestone Creek framed by mangroves. The presence of these trees is a reminder how close this waterway is to Jupiter Inlet.
A fishing pier is provided at the end of the boardwalk. Return to the start of it and continue along the limestone road.
Curving between the oaks, the broad access road narrows and comes to a tighter turn within a stand of gumbo-limbo and cabbage palms.
Around the corner, look for a post with a yellow circle on it marking the Gallberry Trail. Turn right to start making a loop through the woods.
The path leads directly into the deep shade of an oak hammock with dense saw palmetto as its understory.
Emerging into more open woods with swarms of sword ferns covering the forest floor, the trail draws close to the property boundary. A side trail leads to a neighborhood gate.
Turning into the denser oak hammock, the footpath leads up and over a small rise and pops out onto the access road, the boardwalk straight ahead.
Turn left to walk back along the access road to the Bracken Fern Trail for the return walk to the trailhead, completing a 1.1 mile hike.
See our photos of Limestone Creek Natural Area
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.