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One of the last things I did with my parents while they were here in the spring was make a trip to Ikea. And being the way I am, I had to add a little hike. Enter Castaway Island Preserve.
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AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
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Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
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After a morning of meatballs and furniture shopping, we made the trek over to Castaway Island Preserve for a little hike before the drive back to Gainesville.
After finding it, sort of in a busy residential area, we drove to the end of the road and checked out the boardwalk there.
There is a boardwalk that takes you out to a view of the Intracoastal Waterway. You can see a bunch of houses across from it.
This isn’t part of the hike but it doesn’t add too much walking if you want to check it out.
After that, we went back down the road just a bit (walking) to the Castaway Island Nature Trail.
There is a sign marking it and you’ll also probably see the little boardwalk bridge. It’s on the left on your way in and right on the way out.
This is a cute little trail that is a combination of boardwalk and pavement. And you know I love boardwalks.
On the main pavement section there are different sections of animal footprints leading up to an informational sign about that animal.
It’s a little game to guess which local animal the prints are for before learning a bit about the animal. This is what would make the trail particularly fun for kids.
This is mainly a straight line with a small loop at the very end of it, like a lollipop.
There is another boardwalk off the main trail that takes you over some smaller waterways with some nice marshy views at the end.
I enjoyed this part of it but there was a lot of trash under the boardwalk which is always a bummer to see.
If you’re hiking and have food or drink trash, take it with you! Don’t just throw it on the ground! This goes for anywhere, not just here.
Anyway! We saved this extra boardwalk for on our way back but obviously you can do it anytime.
I’m not sure how much walking this adds to the main trail but I would guess 0.5 miles at most.
Before we knew it we were back at the car and headed home. It was a nice little trail and I’m glad we made the side trip to do it.
I wouldn’t go way out of my way for this but if you’re in the area, it’s an enjoyable, easy hike.
It’s probably not something I would go back and do again unless I lived nearby. Then it’s a good trail for just getting out and doing a little walking.
Where is the Castaway Island Preserve?
Castaway Island Preserve is on the east side of Jacksonville, near the Jacksonville Beaches (Atlantic, Neptune, and Jacksonville Beaches).
It’s about 30 minutes from downtown Jacksonville, 50 minutes from St. Augustine, and just over an hour from Amelia Island.
How long is the Castaway Island Preserve trail?
The trail at Castaway Island Preserve is a 0.9 mile loop with a couple of short boardwalks you can add on, one at the end of the road and one along the loop.
Is the Castaway Island Preserve trail easy?
Yes! It’s flat and all paved or boardwalk. It’s also fairly short which helps. It’s pretty sunny but not bad. It’s a great easy hike right in Jacksonville.
Is the Castaway Island Preserve trail worth it?
If you want an easy hike in Jacksonville or have a spare hour, then yes! This is a very short trail and not like, AMAZING, but it’s quiet and doesn’t take too long to do.
If you’re nearby, it’s worth a stop. It has some nice views and you can learn a little bit about local wildlife.
This would be particularly good for families and kids. I would skip this if you like more challenging hikes.
Castaway Island Nature Trail photo gallery
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Have you been to Castaway Island Preserve? What did you think of it? What is your favorite hike near Jacksonville?