16 distinct natural communities create the mosaic that is Jonathan Dickinson, the largest state park in Southeast Florida.
Rare environments such as coastal sand hills, upland lakes, and scrub forests as well as the pristine Loxahatchee River make this park a unique spot to explore by foot or water. Historical interests include a secret WWII training camp, story of the shipwrecked Quaker merchant who is the park’s namesake, and Trapper Nelson, the legendary Wild Man of the Loxahatchee.
Ranger-guided tours of Trapper Nelson’s 1930s pioneer homestead are available year-round. Visitors can enjoy paved and off-road biking, equestrian and hiking trails. Boating, canoeing and kayaking along the river are also great ways to see the park. Anglers can fish along the riverbank or from a boat. The nature and history of the park comes to life through exhibits and displays in the Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center. Programs for kids or the whole family are also offered here.
Paved and off-road trails are available for biking opportunities in the park. The accessible two-mile paved Multi-use Trail runs adjacent to park drive from the park's main picnic and river area. Other multi-use trails in the park include the 8.7-mile Ocean to Lake Multi-use Trail, which can be accessed through other trail systems, and the 8-mile Eagles View Multi-use Trail System located north of the park’s equestrian area.
The 60 passenger Loxahatchee Queen III takes visitors on a one-and-a-half-hour tour of the river, with a stop at the restored 1930s camp of Trapper Nelson, the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee." At the site, park staff lead visitors around the grounds and buildings of a true Florida original, who made his living off the land as a trapper and fur trader. Once fame caught up with Trapper, however, he evolved himself and his home into one of the area's first tourist attractions, "Trapper's Zoo and Jungle Gardens." Trapper's unsolved death in 1968 gives a fitting sense of mystery to the site.
A visual interpretation of Trapper's is available at the Visitor's Center, on the Loxahatchee Queen, or on site by request. A gently sloped and wheelchair friendly sidewalk leads to a small pier to the boat dock; passengers must be able to get onto the pontoon boat without a wheelchair. A beach wheelchair is also available for use on site with advanced noticed.
Please contact the ranger station, 772-546-2771, or the Kimbell Center, 561-745-5551 for more information.
Trapper's is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week (schedule may vary throughout the year), and is accessible only by canoe, boat or by the tour boat.
The Loxahatchee River is famous throughout the state for canoeing and kayaking. The upper river winds its way under a canopy of centuries-old cypress trees, giving a real 'back-in-time' experience. On the lower section, the river becomes a mangrove-lined estuary, with ample bird life along its shores. In 1985, the Loxahatchee became Florida's first federally designated "Wild & Scenic River." The park concession offers rental canoes, kayaks, and motorboats. Please observe the "idle speed" limit on the river within the park.
Two family campgrounds are located at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Pine Grove Campground, with 90 sites, is located near the Ranger Station on the east side of the park. The River Campground, with 52 sites, is about four miles from the park entrance, near the Loxahatchee River. Both campgrounds have large, tiled restrooms with hot showers and are each set up with a washer and dryer.
All sites include water, electricity, table and grill; sewer hookup is included on all Pine Grove campsites, as well. A dump station is located at Pine Grove Campground which is approximately 4 miles from the River Campground. Well behaved pets are welcome in both campgrounds. Maximum RV length for Pine Grove Campground is 40 ft. and 36 ft. for the River Campground.
The Kimbell Center offers fun, family programs every Saturday at 10 a.m. and in the evenings for campers (location varies).
Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through Reserve America. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.
A five-site, campground is available for those wishing to camp with their horses. Horses must be tethered overnight to the tie out posts provided or confined in sturdy portable pens. Portable electric fencing or hobbling is not permitted.
Eight miles of multi-use trails start at the EaglesView area, available for horseback riding, hiking and off-road bicycling. Trail maps are available at the Ranger Station and the Kimbell Center.
Reservations: To reserve an equestrian campsite, please call the ranger station at 772-546-2771.
Two backpack camps are available on segments of the Florida Trail. Maps of the Trail are available at the ranger station. One camp is five miles out along the trail, and the other is nine miles out. A pitcher pump is located near each camp. Water must be treated. Pets are not permitted on this trail and/or at these camps. Collection of firewood is not permitted in Florida State Parks; be sure to pack a stove for cooking.
Overnight trips to these camps must begin by specified times of the day; reservations are not required but are suggested. Call the ranger station at 772-546-2771 for information and reservations.
Camping, Primitive Group
Three group campsites accommodate 30 campers each. Youth groups (for those who are 18 or younger) may reserve a campsite. Youths must be chaperoned by at least one adult, 21 years of age or older, for each 10 youths. Pets are welcome and must be kept on a 6 ft. leash. Sites are equipped with tables, a fire circle and a composting toilet. There is no water in this area; the closest potable water is about a mile away at the picnic area.
Call the ranger station for reservations at 772-546-2771.
Fishing in the Loxahatchee River varies from freshwater fishing in the upper river to saltwater angling as you approach the picnic area and boat ramp. There can be some overlap of species; it is possible to catch snook and snapper far upriver near Trapper’s, and largemouth bass as far down as the mouth of Kitching Creek. Be sure you have the appropriate license (or licenses) for the area and species you are fishing. Freshwater fishing is also available in several of the ponds and lakes, mainly in the eastern and southeastern areas of the park.
All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. A fishing license is recommended may be required. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
Operation Recreation GeoTour
Jonathan Dickinson has an extensive trail system encompassed within the park's 16 natural communities. These trails are perfect for those who are new to hiking as well as visitors looking to trek a few miles.
Designated hiking trails in the park include the 1.5-mile Kitching Creek Nature Trail, 0.5-mile Wilson Creek Nature Trail, and 0.75-mile River Trail located in the main picnic and river area of the park, as well as the 9.4-mile portion of The Florida Trail’s Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail, 5-mile white-blazed Florida Trail, and 7.5-mile green-blazed Florida Trail in various locations of the park.
The accessible two-mile paved Multi-use Trail runs adjacent to park drive from the park's main picnic and river area. Located closer to the park entrance, the Hobe Mountain Trail is a short, beautiful boardwalk that climbs up through the scrub community to the observation tower, from which commanding views of the entire park and surrounding area may be had.
Other multi-use trails in the park include the 8.7-mile Ocean to Lake Multi-use Trail, which can be accessed through other trail systems, and the 8-mile Eagles View Multi-use Trail System located north of the park’s equestrian area. Maps and information are available on the publications page or at the Kimbell Education and Visitor Center.
The Camp Murphy Off-road Bicycle Trail System is a 9-mile network of mountain bike trails, with loops rated for beginners all the way to "black diamond, experts only." Each trail is marked by difficulty level and distance. Wearing an approved helmet is recommended while riding the trails. Maps of the trail system are available at the ranger station and Kimbell Education and Visitor Center or online at Club Scrub. The Camp Murphy Off-road Bicycle Trail System is specially designated for use by human powered bikes only. Human powered with electric assist bikes are not allowed on these trails but can be used on the park's multi-use trails unless otherwise designated. Please see "Bicycling" section above for information about these trails or visit the park's Kimbell Education and Visitor Center for maps and additional information.
The Camp Murphy Off-road Bike Trail System is maintained and sponsored by Club Scrub and the Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park. View more information on Club Scrub and the Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park or about becoming a member.
Canoe, kayak and motorboat rentals are available daily from the concession. Boats can be rented starting at 9 a.m. with the last rental available at 3 p.m. All boats must be returned to the concession by 5 p.m.
A large picnic area is found on the shores of the Loxahatchee River, with dozens of picnic tables and grills. Four picnic pavilions are found here, three of which can be reserved for a fee.
The "Loxahatchee" and "Wilson Creek" pavilions are $60 plus tax (10 tables - 60 persons) and the larger "Kitching Creek" pavilion is $100 plus tax (20 tables - 150 persons).
Call the Ranger Station at 772-546-2771 for reservations. One pavilion is left for first-come, first-served, and the other three may be similarly used if they have not been reserved. The concession store is located here, with drinks, snacks, tour boat tickets, and canoe rentals. Two nature trails start here, and a children's playground is centrally located.
A beautiful grassy swimming beach is available on the shores of the Loxahatchee River. No lifeguards are present, so please exercise caution. It is adjacent to the reservable Loxahatchee picnic pavilion, and a modern restroom with outdoor shower. Please call for current swimming conditions.
Guided horseback rides are available seasonally at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, starting at the EaglesView Equestrian Area and meandering along scenic backcountry routes. Trail rides take place 7 days a week from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Guided Horseback Rides depart at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. each lasting approximately 1 hour in length for adults and children 6 and over. Hand-led 15-minute pony rides are available for children under 6.
For those who would prefer to take in the scenery what could be nicer than a trip along the back roads of the park in our big farm wagon, pulled by a team of two beautiful Percheron draft horses? The wagon will carry up to 14 folks for a 45-minute trail ride (check with concession for availability).
For more information contact the concession at 561-746-1466.
Many species of wildlife may be observed at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, including deer, raccoons, foxes, otters, bobcats and more. Alligators are commonly seen, as are turtles along the river. Threatened and endangered species include Florida scrub-jays, gopher tortoises, manatees and Eastern indigo snakes. Over 150 species of birds have been identified here, making Jonathan Dickinson a premier birding destination.
The Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center is a great place to begin a trip to the park. Visitors can 'tour' the natural and cultural resources of the park with interactive and informational displays. The park video, “A Balancing Act: Recreation and Preservation at Jonathan Dickinson State Park,” is shown all day upon request along with a selection of films about the Loxahatchee River and Florida’s History. The classrooms and research laboratory provide children and adults an opportunity to learn and discover more about the variety of natural communities in the park, including the Loxahatchee River.
The Kimbell Center offers fun, family programs every Saturday at 10 a.m. and the center is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Programs are also available for school groups, home schools, scouts and other organizations. For more information about our current programs, please call the Kimbell Center at 561-745-5551.
Jonathan Dickinson’s 11 cabins are located near the Loxahatchee River. All cabins are furnished and supplied with bed and bath linens as well as dinnerware and utensils. They each have one bedroom with a queen or full-size bed, one full bathroom, living area with a sleeper sofa, dining and kitchen area with a microwave oven, full refrigerator and cooktop. Maximum occupancy is 4-6 people depending upon the cabin. All cabins have outside picnic tables as well as fire rings for outdoor cooking. Pets are not allowed.
Horse Equestrian Trail
Eight miles of multi-use trails start at the Eagles View area, available for horseback riding, hiking and off-road bicycling. Maps and information are available on the park's website or at the Kimbell Education and Visitor Center.
A four-site campground is available for those wishing to camp with their horses. Horses must be tethered overnight to the tie out posts provided or confined in sturdy portable pens. Portable electric fencing or hobbling is not permitted. Proof of negative Coggins is required.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park is committed to providing a variety of accessible amenities to all its visitors. These amenities include:
Environmental Education and Research Center with visual materials and listening devices
Large print Florida State park publications and other literature available upon request at the Visitor's Center
Several electronic mobility devices are available
Paved 2-mile multi-use trail accessible from the Visitor’s Center to the Gator Culvert
Wheelchair friendly ramp and small pier to the boat dock
Wheelchair friendly sidewalk through a section of the picnic area near the Loxahatchee River
Picnic pavilions, picnic tables, and grills
Accessible campsites and cabin
Accessible canoe and kayak launch
Auto Tour – with visual or audio options
A concrete boat launch ramp is available on the Loxahatchee River. The Loxahatchee eventually leads to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Please observe the "idle speed" limit on the river within the park.
The boat ramp fee is $4 plus tax. This is in addition to the Admission Fee.