The southern part of Brevard County around Melbourne is rich in natural lands and parks that invite exploration, including habitats that are the northernmost point for many tropical species like gumbo-limbo. In addition to parks along the barrier islands, there are vast places to hike along the sand ridges and river floodplains on the western side of the county.
Trails and Parks in Melbourne
- Centennial Trail- Designed the first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903, Pelican Island NWR celebrated its century mark by creating this short, scenic, accessible boardwalk for birding.
- Coconut Point Sanctuary- Call it the Ocean-to-Lagoon Hike: this 1 mile loop through one of Brevard County's most diverse natural lands connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon in Melbourne Beach
- Erna Nixon Park- Although Erna Nixon Park is just down the street from one of the busiest shopping malls on the Space Coast, it transports you out of suburbia and into the wilds.
- Florida Trail, Bull Creek WMA- Providing a 20.5 mile loop for backpacking amid open pine savannas and prairies, the Florida Trail at Bull Creek WMA is a popular destination.
- Florida Trail, Three Lakes WMA- At Three Lakes WMA / Prairie Lakes Unit, the Florida Trail traverses one of the largest expanses of open prairie in the Southeast, the Kissimmee Prairie.
- Linear Park at Brevard Zoo- A 10-foot wide boardwalk forged from recycled plastic planks winds through wetlands and oak hammocks east of I-95 on a 1.1-mile route south of the Brevard Zoo.
- Maritime Hammock Sanctuary- On a 2.8-mile loop trail, Maritime Hammock Sanctuary showcases maritime, or coastal hammock, marshlands, and mangroves along the Indian River Lagoon
- Sebastian Inlet State Park- One of few places where the Indian River Lagoon mingles with the Atlantic Ocean, Sebastian Inlet is the central feature of Sebastian Inlet State Park, which protects the tips of both barrier islands.
- St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park- Bisected by Interstate 95 south of Melbourne, St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park spans across two counties, protecting a mosaic of pine flatwoods, cypress domes, palmetto prairies, and strand swamp surrounding the St. Sebastian River and its tributaries.
- Sunset Ranch Trail- The 2.2-mile Sunset Ranch Trail at the Prairie Lakes Unit of Three Lakes WMA provides an easy day hike for birding near Lake Marian.
- Triple N Ranch- Vast pine savannas and pitcher plant bogs await at one of the toughest loop trails in the Orlando area a 7.5-mile challenge at Triple N Ranch WMA.
- Turkey Creek Sanctuary- Turkey Creek Sanctuary is a preserve of 117 acres along Turkey Creek in Palm Bay, with boardwalks carrying you over a variety of habitats and a nature center for the kids.
- Viera Wetlands- One of the best destinations on the Space Coast for birding and wildlife photography, Viera Wetlands is both a man-made habitat and a modern facility for wastewater treatment.
- Linear Park at Brevard Zoo (1/14/2015)- A 10-foot wide boardwalk forged from recycled plastic planks winds through wetlands and oak hammocks east of I-95 on a 1.1-mile route south of the Brevard Zoo.
- Fall in the floodplain (1/13/2012)- For years, I’ve heard people fuss about the “lack of seasons” in Florida. Spend a little time in the woods, and you’ll tune in to Florida’s unique seasonality. Wildflowers do the best job of showing off what time of year it is, but our floodplain forests do, too. Depending on where you are in the […]