The Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve
The Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve is the crowning jewel of old Florida. Located in the backyard of Jacksonville, Florida it is famous for its unique mission of protecting not only the salt marshes and unique ecology of coastal Florida but also preserving the local historical and cultural sites. The most famous attractions of the Preserve are: Fort Caroline, the Theodore Roosevelt Area, Kingsley Plantation and American Beach.
There is no better place to learn about old Florida and the people who created this paradise we know today than the visitor center and museum at Fort Caroline. On your trip to explore this National Park, make this museum the first on your list to learn more about the rich history of the Timucuan Tribe and the short stay of the French at Fort Caroline. To reach Fort Caroline itself, follow a short trail next to the museum to explore the ruins of the fort and the recreation of the historical weaponry of the era.
Across the stream from the Fort, you will find the Theodore Roosevelt Area, which is rich in hiking trails and mesmerizing views of the salt marshes that surround it. This area allows you to escape the touch of humanity on the landscape and to escape the stress of everyday life. The Roosevelt Area was donated by Willie Brown to help protect this rich ecological site from the development of nearby Jacksonville, Florida. The trails, which are 2.5 to 5 miles in length, boast a variety of difficulty levels to satisfy the seasoned hiker and new explorer alike. The main attraction of the trail is the overlook which allows you to see across the river and a stunning view of the forest filled with Live Oaks.
The Timucuan Preserve not only preserves the best parts of Florida history but also some of its darkest. The Kingsley Plantation remembers a time of slavery and discrimination. Nestled between stunning oaks and waterways lie the sad remains of the slave cabins which rest in the shadow of the plantation home. Visit the different museums in the home to learn more about this age in American history and read about what the people who lived and died here had the endure. To get the most out of your experience at the Plantation, return for one of the many events that take place there to learn more about living in old Florida.
Calling back to another dark time in American history, American Beach remembers a time of segregation. American Beach was originally established as a resort for African Americans that were not allowed on beaches reserved for whites. American Beach was not only a beach access but originally also featured a type of resort for people to enjoy. Recently, the park service established an educational center for visitors to learn more about American Beach and its long history.
If you like history or nature and especially both, the Timucuan Ecological and Cultural Preserve is a National Park worth exploring. Each feature of the park has enough information and activities to keep you adventuring for a whole day. Make sure to make ample time to get the most of your stay and schedule your trip to experience one of the many activities and festivals that takes place on the site.