Discover Northeast Florida as its first inhabitants experienced it by exploring the north end of an untouched barrier island on Little Talbot’s four-mile Dune Ridge Trail. Dappled sand paths catch footprints and animal tracks, traversing two miles of mature maritime forest across ancient dune ridges. Arching live oak branches, laden with Spanish moss, diverge from towering loblolly pine and sweet blooming magnolia trunks. A thicket of palmetto, cedar, holly and spicy bay trees frame your route.
The roar of the crashing waves and a salt breeze greet you as the landscape changes from thick woods to rolling dunes. Marking the transition to the tough coastline environment, these pioneer plants of sea oats, railroad vine and cacti convert sand grains into soil and form protective, buffering dune swales with their root networks.
Marvel at the majesty of fallen giants, while driftwood skeletons of towering trees line the shore, attesting to the power of the Atlantic Ocean.
As you turn south to enjoy the final two miles walking by the sea, look closely among the orange shell beds and you may be lucky enough to find a fossilized shark’s tooth or a sand dollar. The laugh of a gull or chirp of an osprey provides a soundtrack as you stroll. Wandering gopher tortoises, snacking shorebirds, surfing pelicans and passing dolphins are frequent visitors to this slice of paradise. Hopefully, you’ll be a return visitor too.