A rare patch of natural habitats in an increasingly developed region, Seabranch Preserve State Park spans from A1A to the Indian River Lagoon.
It is part of a puzzle of public lands set aside for habitat preservation, sitting just west of St. Lucie Preserve and the northern tip of Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. It is also close to Peck Lake Park.
While the scrub that defines the Atlantic Coastal Ridge is the primary highlight of the trail system in the preserve, the park is also home to a mangrove forest and one of South Florida’s rare bayhead communities.
It’s unusual as it is a fresh water floodplain marsh with loblolly bay and sweetbay magnolia, yet it is close enough to the Indian River that you can smell the salt water.
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Location: Hobe Sound
Address: 6093 SE Dixie Hwy, Stuart, FL 34997
Restroom: vault toilet at trailhead
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs permitted. More than 8 miles of trails make up the trail network in the park.
A shaded picnic area is provided at the front of the park, where the East Coast Greenway passes by on a 1.3-mile paved segment. The trailhead is sometimes busy with cyclists.
To find Seabranch Preserve State Park, take the I-95 exit for Stuart / Indiantown (SR 76). Follow Cove Road east for 4.5 miles, crossing US 1, until you reach CR A1A. Turn right and continue 1.5 miles south. Make a left into the small parking area across from the VFW, just before the railroad tracks.
The sand pine scrub found here is Florida’s version of a desert. In the sunshine, the sand is blindingly white. It is always soft to walk through.
Most visitors come here to walk the trails. We’ve explored the two original loops, the North Loop and the South Loop.
There is also an East Loop that lets you extend your hike significantly, and a short section of paved trail – part of the East Coast Greenway – that is accessible.
Walk softly, and you will see and hear wildlife. We’ve encountered Florida scrub-jays here as well as gopher tortoises. They leave clear sets of tracks as they wander from their burrows.
Look closely at the sandy soil for delicate wildflowers and mosses. We’ve seen earthstars growing in the thick duff under the sand pines.
A covered picnic shelter sits out front not far from the vault toilet. If you decide to take a hike, be sure to take plenty of water with you.
See our photos from hiking at Seabranch Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
With a trail traversing both tropical forest and scrub, Rocky Point Hammock is perched along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge in Port Salerno, south of Stuart
One of the most dramatic shorelines in Florida, the rocky shore of Blowing Rocks Preserve has sea caves and bluffs to explore on a hike through the oceanfront preserve
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.