Divided into four quadrants, the massive St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park provides a multitude of scenic vistas accessible by foot, bicycle, and horseback.
Home to the park’s visitor center, the northwest quadrant features a lengthy green blazed loop trail traversing pine flatwoods, scrub, bayheads, and a strand swamp.
A variety of plants bloom at different times of the year throughout the property, including goldenrod, fetterbush lyonia, blueberries and several species of small carnivorous plants.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 9.7-mile loop
Trailhead: 27.824719, -80.606467
Address: 1000 Buffer Preserve Dr, Fellsmere, FL 32948
Fees: Free. Primitive camping costs $5 per person per night
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily, unless camping is pre-arranged. Leashed pets welcome.
Most trails are multi-use, shared with equestrians and off-road cyclists.
From Interstate 95, head west on CR 512 for 3 miles, before turning right onto N Broadway St. In 0.4 mile, turn left onto S Carolina Ave, then turn right onto CR 507 in 0.4 mile. Continue on CR 507 for 3.5 miles. The park entrance will be on the right side of the road. Follow this road past the visitor center to the trailhead.
Passing through a gate at the parking area, head to the right, towards a green and white topped signpost indicating the start of the trail.
Blazed trees lead the way down a grassy corridor into a mesic flatwood habitat.
A canopy of longleaf and slash pines dots the shrubby landscape alongside cabbage palms and clusters of saw palmetto.
An intersection at 0.3 mile provides a couple of choices for the hike. A left turn will take a white-blazed shortcut while continuing forward leads to the Cracker Camp.
Reaching another intersection at 0.6 mile, stay to the left and continue to follow green and white blazes for 0.1 mile before reaching a side trail to the campsite.
Cracker Camp is about 0.1 mile down this spur trail, and features a rustic wooden shelter, fire ring, picnic table and well pump.
At 1.1 miles, turn right to leave the white blazed loop, heading northward on the main green loop.
The trail follows a wide, mowed pathway leading through vast pine savannas covered in golden grasses.
Turning left at 2.2 miles, the trail follows a powerline easement for a short distance through a strand swamp.
In this environment, pickerelweed lines trailside depressions filled with water and carnivorous bladderworts.
As the trail heads towards the northeast corner of the loop, it passes through a muddy bayhead swamp, emerging into dry scrubby flatwoods on the other side.
The sandy pathway weaves through a sea of gnarled scrub oaks as it approaches Interstate 95 before circling westward around a large retention pond.
On the north edge of the property, the trail follows a gravel road under powerlines for 1.6 miles, then turns to the south, entering an area of wet pine flatwoods.
Pink sundews proliferate along the edges of the path, alongside colorful butterworts and milkworts.
Pine trees, grass and palmettos dominate the landscape for the following 1.7 miles before crossing a small footbridge.
Habitats slowly transition to a mixed forest featuring occasional oaks, pawpaws, ferns, and fetterbush lyonia.
The final 0.7 mile of trail crosses an grass-covered improved pasture undergoing restoration, reaching the trailhead at 9.7 miles.
Learn more about St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
Cut in two by Interstate 95 south of Melbourne, St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park spans 35 square miles across two counties, protecting a mosaic of habitats for wildlife, particularly the Florida scrub-jay.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
St. Sebastian River Preserve Yellow Trail
Navigating a longleaf pine forest blanketed with countless wildflowers, the Yellow Trail at St. Sebastian State Preserve is a great destination for spotting rare red-cockaded woodpeckers.
St. Sebastian River Preserve Red Trail
Wildlife abounds within scrub, oak hammock, and pine flatwoods habitats along the 14.9-mile Red Trail loop at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park.
The Trans-Florida Central Railroad Trail
If you’ve seen the prominent Trans-Florida Central Railroad Trail over Interstate 95 at Fellsmere, you’ve probably wondered about it. Here’s what we found when we stopped for a ride.
Fellsmere Trailhead Preserve
Immediately west of Interstate 95 at the Sebastian/Fellsmere exit, Fellsmere Trailhead Preserve provides a nature break for travelers and a trailhead for recreation