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Loxahatchee Chapter

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Serving Palm Beach and Glades counties
 

LoxahatcheeChartered in 1982, the Loxahatchee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association began with a core group of 36 outdoors enthusiasts, some of whom had participated in blazing a new trail through the Corbett Wildlife Management Area. Members soon after took on the task of blazing the Florida Trail around Lake Okeechobee and took over care of the major hiking trail in Jonathan Dickinson State Park to create a loop trail for backpackers and day hikers.

The chapter has many well established activities, including the Annual Ocean to Lake Backpacking Trip & Day hikes around President’s Day. Over the past decade, members have been instrumental in creating the Ocean to Lake Trail from Hobe Sound Beach on the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Okeechobee. Other hikes include the Mothers Day wildflower walk, first-weekend walks in John Prince Park and at Jonathan Dickinson State Park and, most famous of all, the annual “Big O” Hike around Lake Okeechobee each Thanksgiving week, a major event held every year since 1992.

The Loxahatchee Chapter maintains the Florida Trail around Lake Okeechobee, and the Ocean to Lake Trail from Hobe Sound to Port Mayaca., and also takes care of loop trails in Jonathan Dickinson State Park and DuPuis Reserve, and the linear portion of the Ocean to Lake Trail through Corbett WMA as well as Palm Beach County Natural Areas and Riverbend Park.

The Ocean To Lake Hiking Trail runs for approximately 63 miles, west from Hobe Sound Beach to Lake Okeechobee. The trail starts at the ocean, entering Jonathan Dickinson State Park at US 1, traveling through the park, Palm Beach County Natural Areas, Corbett Wildlife Management Area and Dupuis Management Area, and ends at the lake. The ecosystems on this beautiful trail change approximately every mile, from ancient sand dunes with scrub oak and sand pine to pine flatwoods, palmetto and oak hammocks, cypress swamp and wet prairies.

At Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the two loops that the chapter maintains (Green Loop and White Loop) provide great day hikes for exploring a range of habitats from open sand pine scrub to wet prairies, pine flatwoods, cypress domes, and dense hardwood hammocks. The trails have been rerouted in some areas. Backpackers can put the two loops together for nearly 18 miles of hiking, an excellent weekend outing. Access the Green Loop at the front parking area along US-1 next to the ranger station, north of Jupiter.  Access to White Loop is from the Camp Murphy Trailhead approximately one mile down the road from the main entrance for JDSP.

The Corbett Hiking Trail across Corbett WMA in western Palm Beach County is lesser known but a true gateway to the wild. This 17-mile linear trail is now part of the Ocean to Lake Trail and connects the Everglades Youth Camp with DuPuis Reserve, passing through vast wet prairies, cypress strands, open pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks. Access is from Northlake Blvd at Seminole-Pratt-Whitney Road into Corbett WMA with the trailhead at Everglades Youth Camp.

The Palm Beach County Natural Areas and Riverbend Park provide key connections for the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail between the Corbett Wildlife Management Area and Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The trail travels through Hungry Land and Loxahatchee Sloughs both of which have under gone significant hydrological and habitat restoration. Several Boardwalks take hikers through cypress swamps. A pedestrian bridge crosses the C-18 canal and a  underpass allow the hikes to cross Indiantown Road. Access is from the Corbert Youth Camp, and Riverbend Park on Indiantown Road.

The Dupuis Management Area straddles western Martin and Palm Beach Counties and is the Western anchor of the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail. The Chapter maintains a total of about 30 miles of trail in Dupuis including a series of 4 north south loops and the linear east west Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail. Several Red Cockaded Woodpecker restoration sites are visible from the trails. Access to the loop trail system is from Gate #2 on SR 70 approximately 7 miles west of Indiantown. Access to the west end of  Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail is from the Palm Beach County’s Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trailhead on US 441 via a 1 mile road walk.

See Fisheating Creek Sub Chapter