Monday, February 21, 2011

Miscellany: Jonathan Dickinson State Park

As parks go, Jonathan Dickinson State Park is a rather homely specimen. It'll never be featured on a Travel Channel special, or written up in National Geographic; heck, even the promotional video below has a hard time making the place look exciting:



If you're looking for a place to snap photos that will amaze your friends, this ain't it. Instead, park visitors are confronted by acres and acres of featureless scrub and pine, as far as the eye can see. There is a river, the mighty Loxahatchee, but it's essentially a flat dark blue road surrounded by forest. No grizzly bears, no waterfalls, no canyons, no mountains...it's nature at its most mundane.

But therein lies Jonathan Dickinson's charm - since of the park's visitors are locals, you don't have a crush of tourists despoiling the place. In other words, it's the same trees and terrain as the rest of South Florida, but without the people.

The difference is subtle, to be sure. When you're plumbing the depths of one of Jonathan Dickinson's off-road bike trails (which are extremely difficult to navigate due to the 6" diameter shrub roots that grow inconveniently across the trail), you start to notice that there aren't cigarette butts or beer caps littering the ground. When you're canoeing on the Loxahatchee, you can hear your own thoughts, not the thrum of traffic on I-95.

Best of all, the place is cheap and accessible - right off of Federal Highway in Hobe Sound, Florida, only about an hour's drive from the maddening sprawl of Palm Beach County. So, if you're in the area, and if you're sick of trying to "get away from it all" only to run into the crowds at Yellowstone and Yosemite, try Jonathan Dickinson State Park - a homely place you can spend some time in.

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