Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail segment (Indian River/Pelican Island), Indian River Blueway Trail
Indian River County marks the beginning of Florida’s Treasure Coast, known for serene expansive beaches and named for the silver and gold that scattered the seafloor after a storm sunk a fleet of treasure-carrying ships in 1715.
The coastal community of Sebastian sits at the junction of the Saint Sebastian River and Indian River while nearby pine flatwoods, sand hills, and strand swamp fill St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. Miles of nature trails can be explored on foot or horseback and the river is popular among boaters, fishers, and kayakers. Manatee Overlook in the park is a great location for viewing wildlife such as pelican, herons, and manatees.
Across Indian River is Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt as America’s first National Wildlife Refuge. It encompasses over 5,400 acres of water and land and provides protection to shore birds like pelicans and wood storks for nesting, feeding, and roosting. Track the birds you see while there with the Refuge bird list. The lagoon waters also offer ample opportunity for swimming, kayaking, and boating.
Activities for exploring nature on foot abound with hiking trails like the Historic Jungle Trail beginning in the Refuge and winding though 8 miles of barrier island hammock habitat. Further south, the Lagoon Greenway traverses over 3 miles of coastal plain, maritime hammock, and mangrove forest.
The Indian River-Malabar to Vero Beach Aquatic Preserve envelops 29,000 acres of the Indian River Lagoon, a diverse estuary habitat between temperate and subtropical climate zones. Opposite the aquatic preserve on the barrier islands is Sebastian Inlet State Park. The park is a favorite among anglers for catching Spanish mackerel, snook, and redfish. Sebastian Inlet is also popular surf location, hosting several major competitions per year.
The southern coastal city of Vero Beach is famous for its quiet beaches, museums, golf and water sports, and fishing. Further inland lies Fellsmere, a small town known for its many historical landmarks such as the Bethel Creek House of Refuge, the Hallstrom House, and as the birthplace for equal suffrage for women in Florida.
Also inland, and at the headwaters of the St. Johns River is Blue Cypress Lake within the Blue Cypress Conservation Area. The wetland ecosystem’s tree islands and cypress domes are enjoyed by paddlers, airboat riders, and birdwatchers hoping to spot great blue herons, ospreys, and limpkins.
July 13, 2022 - 1:47pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.