Jonathan Dickinson is the only state park in South Florida where visitors can hike to the top of an ancient sand dune. The dune stands 86 feet above sea level, the highest natural point south of Lake Okeechobee. Hobe Mountain was once submerged in the Atlantic Ocean, and as sea levels rose and fell the mountain was formed by high winds and the crashing of ocean waves.
Hobe Mountain is part of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, a series of dunes and hills that parallel the Southeast Florida coastline. The hills found in the eastern portion of the park adjacent to U.S. Highway 1 are some of the only hills found in the area, and many of the plants and animals that grow upon them are unique to the desert-like conditions of the dunes.
These sand dunes - known as sand pine scrub - are a disappearing habitat for plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Many of these species are endangered and some are specific only to Jonathan Dickinson State Park and Florida. The Florida scrub-jay and Florida scrub lizard are examples of species endemic to the Florida sand pine scrub. Plant species such as the Florida dancing lady orchid are also found only in the park.
Park visitors can climb Hobe Mountain by way of a boardwalk leading through the scrub and up to Hobe Mountain Tower, which rises an additional 27 feet from the mountain. The observation tower allows for optimal viewing of the park, Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.