Make a Resolution to Explore St. Lucie County’s Preserve with Guided Hikes

Add exploration to your New Year’s resolutions by getting out and experiencing St. Lucie County’s nearly 10,000 acres of preserves with the Environmental Resources Department’s Guided Nature Program series. These guided tours give participants an opportunity to see “old Florida” and learn about native habitats and wildlife.

Unless otherwise specified, these programs are free, open to the public, and reservations are required.  Hikes for January include:
§  Sunday, Jan. 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.New Year’s Day Hike at DJ Wilcox Preserve, 399 Wilcox Road, Fort Pierce. After all the holiday celebrations, enjoy a mid-morning hike in this habitat adjacent to the Indian River Lagoon. We’ll enjoy seasonal blooming wildflowers, watch for wildlife around the freshwater pond, and then journey into Slash Pine uplands to look for insects, birds, and other wildlife.
§  Saturday, Jan. 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. – Welcome to the Preserve Hike at Citrus Hammock Preserve, 6511 Citrus Ave., Fort Pierce.  Join us on the inaugural guided tour of the preserve’s Shoestring Swamp trail. Citrus Hammock Preserve offer visitors a glimpse at the breathtaking vistas that were historically found in St. Lucie County’s floodplain forests.  Participants will explore the newly marked wild areas and discover how the man-made pond on-site acts like a buffer for pollutants.

§  Sunday, Jan. 8 from 9 to 11 a.m.Scrubby Tree ID Hike at Indrio Scrub Preserve, 4100 Old Dixie Higway, Fort Pierce. What trees are the longest lived?  Monoecious or dioecious and what is the difference? Learn about these and other fun facts about the preserve’s tallest woody vegetation. Discover the adaptations that separate and help ID tree species during this fun hike through the scrub.
§  Sunday, Jan. 8 from 2 – 4 p.m.: Photographing Nature Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Bring your camera or smartphone to take part in this guided nature photography hike. We’ll explore the park in search of flowers, insects, wildlife and more. Learn basic photography techniques to capture vibrant photos while learning about native species and habitats.
§  Saturday, Jan. 14 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Time Travel Hike at Spruce Bluff Preserve, 611 SE Dar Lane, Port St. Lucie. The banks of the St. Lucie River were inviting to Native Americans and Florida pioneers.  Find out why they chose to settle in this area.  We will travel back in time from pre-history to 19th Century settlement as we hike the trails of Spruce Bluff Preserve.
§  Saturday, Jan. 14 from 3 to 6 p.m.: Adventure on the Five Mile Creek Paddle Excursion at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Discover the hidden and often overlooked Five Mile Creek, a small and beautiful tributary to the St. Lucie River, historically known for being a rich and healthy environment for Native Americans and early Florida settlers. Details will be provided to registered participants prior to the scheduled date. Kayaks, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices, and paddles will be provided (you may also provide your own equipment if desired).  The cost is $10 per person.  No online registration, please call 772-462-2526 to reserve your space. Reservations are a must.
§  Sunday, Jan. 15 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: What Makes a Plant an “Invasive Species” Hike at Ancient Oaks Preserve, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. It’s confusing: Are “invasive” and “exotic” the same term?  What makes an organism native or non-native?  Are there other categories?  Join us for a hike through a transitioning habitat to learn about Florida’s native plants and other species we commonly see which aren’t. Expect some surprise discoveries.
§  Monday, Jan. 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Learning to Bird Family Program and Hike at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Do you like watching birds? Do you want to learn more about their incredible adaptations? Here’s your chance to study the birds during the hike and do some fun hands-on activities. Be sure to bring your binoculars if you have them. Appropriate for all ages and all minors must be accompanied by an adult.
§  Friday, Jan. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon: Songbirds Seminar and Hike at Richard E. Becker Preserve, 3398 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce. Which birds are “songbirds?”  Learn about the largest group of birds in Florida beginning at Becker House.  We’ll explore what makes a bird a member of this amazing group, learn about which “songbirds” are in Florida, and discuss resources – such as checklists and field guides – to help you find and identify these amazing birds.  We’ll then head into preserve area of the property to hike and listen for the “songbirds” covered in class.  A two-for-one class and hike opportunity.
§  Saturday, Jan. 21 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Tracking 101 Family Hike at Sheraton Scrub Preserve, 2222 North 41st St., Fort Pierce. Critters running through a preserve can leave a lot of cool footprints.  Participants will be surprised to discover how many different animal species travel through this urban-area preserve and will get a chance to learn how to “read” each track for a glimpse into the animal’s daily life.  Appropriate for all ages, minors must be accompanied by an adult.
§  Sunday, Jan. 22 from 8 to 10 a.m.: Connect with Nature Serenity Hike at Jones Hammock Preserve, off Bell Avenue in Fort Pierce. For those of you who like the peace and serenity that only nature can provide or you love to view wildlife in its natural habitat then this “silent hike” for you. We’ll have both as we walk silently from Jones Hammock Preserve and up to Platt’s Creek Preserve. This restored wetland is known for its incredible wildlife and promises not to disappoint. This will be a great way to relieve stress.
§  Saturday, Jan. 28 from 9 to 11 a.m.: Invasive Plant Species Scavenger Hunt at Ancient Oaks Preserve, 4650 Oleander Ave., Fort Pierce. This hike focuses on invasive plant species which threaten the integrity of Florida’s ecosystems.  Join us for this educational and fun hike as we explore the 51-acre multi-use site in search of invasive species, and learn what is being done to protect and restore our natural communities.
§  Saturday, Jan. 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Nocturnal Neighbors Night Hike at Steven J. Fousek Preserve, 8551 Carlton Road, Port St. Lucie. Participants have another opportunity to venture into the night-time world of the outdoors to enjoy a peaceful hike through a different preserve in search of nocturnal creatures such as raptors bats, owls, frogs, fireflies and moths. Along the trail we will learn about animal adaptations, and sounds of the night. Participants may flashlights if desired, as long as a translucent red film covers the lens. This serves to protect everyone’s night vision and wildlife during the hike.
§  Sunday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to noon: Whose Scat is that? Family Hike at George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce. Join us to learn about how looking at the evidence that animals left behind can tell us a lot about their health and lifestyle. Scat, tracks, nests and dens are all clues will intrigue the youngest of minds to explore nature and a great way to spend some valuable family time together. Appropriate for all ages, minors must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information and to find the link for registration, please visit www.slchikes.org, call 772-462-2526 or email slchikes@stlucieco.org.
Programs are usually limited to 15 people helping to allow participants to immerse themselves into the county’s beautiful natural areas. Programs target ages 12 and older unless otherwise noted.  All minors must be accompanied by an adult.  Proper footwear and water are required for all programs, and please leave pets at home.
Purchased through a voter-approved bond referendum, St. Lucie County manages more than two dozen preserves that are open to the public for passive recreation. For more information about St. Lucie County’s Environmentally Significant Lands visit: www.stlucieco.gov/erd. For a list of all St. Lucie County parks and preserves visit the interactive map at https://gis.stlucieco.gov/parkspreserves.

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