Protecting 509 acres in an otherwise crowded urban area, a large swath of floodplain forest and pine flatwoods along the Ortega River – a tributary of the St. Johns River – Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park sits right along US 17 across from the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. While the Nature Center and its trails are the focal point of this park, the Island Hiking Trail is a rough gem that charts a course for adventure through the northern third of the preserve. It takes a bit of wayfinding savvy, thanks to numerous unmarked cross-trails and firebreaks, as well as some smarts about habitats to avoid wading, as you circle the edge of an island surrounded by the swamps of the Ortega River floodplain. But the beauty of the forest – and a surprise patch of scrub in the midst of the wetlands – make it quite worthwhile.
Here is a link to additional information about the park: http://www.floridahikes.com/tilliekfowlerisland
Typically we would meet at Panera Bread at 4403 Roosevelt Blvd. However, the park is only 5-6 miles away from the Panera Bread so we can all plan on meeting at the park at 9am. You are free to make your own car pool arrangements or post a request to carpool in the comments.
There are two primary trails: The first trail (Island Trail) is 2.25 miles roundtrip and takes us to an island surrounded my swampland. The second trail (Observation Trail) is 0.8 miles roundtrip and takes us to an observation tower.
After driving into the park, stay on the right side and go about 1-2 miles to the end of the road and you'll see parking a sign for the nature center. You'll pass an archery course and a park/playground as you go into the park. We will meet up outside the nature center at 9am.
You may want to bring sunscreen, a hat, bug spray and possibly a snack or water. There is also a butterfly garden near the nature center if anyone is interested in seeing it.
I could not find a physical address for the park, but the longitude and latitude are:[masked] and -81.699003. The park is on Roosevelt Blvd. about 3 miles south of Timuquana Rd. (across from NAS). There is no entrance fee.