Monday, June 25, 2012

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, Jacksonville, FL

     This past week, in between a month long bout of rain and Tropical Storm Debby, I had the opportunity to take a trip to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park (known as just Hanna Park), located in Jacksonville close to Naval Station Mayport. This park is a little different because it is one of the few recreation oriented parks sponsored by the city as opposed to the state or fed. The website for Hanna Park states, "Experience Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park with its sandy beach, freshwater lake, wooded camping sites, natural dunes and naturescapes that defy the imagination."

     Hanna Park is home to some of the best in recreation that the Jacksonville area has to offer and provides a little something for everyone. A rarity amongst  parks, it possesses not only mountain biking trails, a 60-acre lake, camping, picnic areas, but one of the best surf spots in Northeast Florida (the poles). I had the pleasure while growing up to attend their Jr. Lifeguard Camp (no longer there) and was always amazed at the variety of wildlife present. As much as I hated the camp starting at 7am every morning, the early hours provided the best chance to spot dolphins which can frequently be seen and we took advantage of it to paddle-boarded or kayaked out to interact with them (check state and federal laws before you do this).

     Nestled up against the beach you find dunes with some boardwalk nature trails through them, as well as more hiking and mountain biking trails farther inshore. Always make sure you are on the lookout for Banana Spiders, which are known to grow quite large and being venomous a bite from one will leave you with a nasty sore and possible allergenic responses or scarring. The mountain biking trails are a challenge that will push any rider and provide some good thrills along the way. Narrow trails winding through a scrub-type forest, the rider must overcome sharp turns, low hanging trees (complete with hanging spider webs), large roots, and some nice up and downs that will burn some serious calories.

     Overall, Hanna Park is a definite place worth visiting if you are a tourist or a local of the area, as it has hiking, beaches, mountain biking, camping, picnic areas, and provides excellent opportunities to see a variety of wildlife. The park is usually open from 8am-8pm and will cost 1$ per person before 10am and $3 per car after 10am. Make sure you bring your sunscreen and some snacks and fluids as you will most certainly need all of those, especially in the summer.

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