The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens has a fascinating history. Roughly between 1944 and 1961, strip mines were operated in this region of Jacksonville by the Humphries Gold Mining Company. In spite of its name, the company did not mine for gold there but for minerals to transform into titanium. The mining activities impacted vegetation and soils in sections of the Jacksonville Arboretum severely; however, the areas are getting better.

Early in the 1970s, as a provision to an EPA Grant for constructing the Arlington East treatment facility, Jacksonville bought the property as an open space buffer and passive recreation spot around the treatment plant. However, over the 30 years that followed, the property remained vacant and was sometimes used for illegal dumping.

In 2004, a coalition of citizens started talks with the City concerning leasing the property for recreational use. The lease was negotiated and the official opening of the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens to the public occurred in November 2008.

A 120-acre urban forest, the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is chock full of trails for new and seasoned adventurers to explore and relish. From its trailhead close to the parking lot, a walkway surrounds a stunning two-acre lake. The trail descends slightly approximately 25 feet to the bottom of the lake; it then goes back up a small slope on the other side to the trailhead. The loop is enhanced by more than 100 labeled plants and interpretive signs.

Additionally, there are more than three miles of countryside hiking trails that quietly wind through a sequence of distinctive ecological habitats. All along these trails, there are benches that invite the hiker to either get in a decent stretch during a spirited walk or to pause and just momentarily take in the breathtaking view.

Developed and operated by the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Inc., these stunning urban wetlands is a non-profit organization that leases the land on which they are located from the City of Jacksonville. Outside of special events, no fee is required for entry; however, donations are always appreciated. A donation of $3 per visitor is suggested by the gardens.

Open Monday to Thursday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Friday and Sunday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m, the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens are yours to explore. The gardens can be found less than 10 miles to the east of downtown Jacksonville. For additional details, you can visit their official website.

To see some of the military history of Jacksonville Florida, visit Fort Clinch State Park.