The University of North Florida Nature Trails
The property of the University of North Florida has more than 500 acres of natural wildlands. There are eight varieties of natural communities that support a varied population of animals and plants. The staff members of the wildlife sanctuary manage the assets to safeguard the natural resources while providing support for academic research, environmental education, and low-impact recreation. The university is located in Jacksonville, Florida, which is among the fastest-growing cities in the United States.
In 1973, the University of North Florida Nature Trails were constructed on old logging roads by its students, staff members, faculty, the Youth Conservation Corps, and other organizations in and around the community. The trails feature a visitor pavilion, handicapped-accessible picnic area, a self-guiding interpretive system, and a boardwalk. In 1977, the trails were provided with National Recreational Trail status. The university has a well-marked and well-maintained trail system that offers an array of hikes for a range of abilities.
The University of North Florida (UNF) nature trails are part of the natural resources of the university. Formally, they are referred to as the Robert W. Loftin Nature Trails in commemoration of the UNF professor who, decades ago, championed their establishment. There are five trails that combine to span a total of 5.85 miles.
Through the trails, users are taken across a 500-acre natural region of the UNF campus; these trails incorporate the Sawmill Slough Preserve, which covers 382 acres. There are two small peaceful lakes, an abundance of wildlife and plants, and breath-taking natural beauty that can be explored around every bend of the trail.
During the exploration of the trails, users will experience numerous ecosystems, such as coastal forests and wetlands. Those on the trail will even have the opportunity to see a mammoth cypress tree, which is estimated to be roughly 500 years old. Some of the trails are boardwalks and there are small bridges over wetlands and streams. The five trails that can be explored are highlighted below:
• The Goldenrod Trail (2.85 miles)
• The Blueberry Trail (1.44 miles)
• The Gopher Tortoise Ridge (.78 mile)
• The Big Cypress Trail (.47 mile)
• The Red Maple Boardwalk (.31 mile)
The trail system can be accessed by hikers within and outside of the university population; however, alcohol, motor vehicles, bikes, and dogs are not allowed on the trail. In addition, campfires and camping, in general, are not allowed as well.
For another great outdoor experience, stop by TPC Sawgrass for a round of golf.