Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River

A view of the waters of the Loxahatchee River.

The Loxahatchee River is one of Jonathan Dickinson State Park’s main features as Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River. This 7.6-mile river starts its journey in the Loxahatchee Slough 20 miles south of the park. It meanders through freshwater creeks into a brackish estuary, eventually making its way to the Jupiter Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. The entire park lies within the 210-square-mile Loxahatchee River Basin which includes three main forks of the river. The North and Northwest Forks flow through the park and the Southwest Fork flows south of the park boundary.

The Loxahatchee River has rich cultural and ecological history, playing a key role in the Seminole Wars, the life of early pioneers, and plans to restore the hydrology of the river. The river was the site of the Battle of the Loxahatchee during the Second Seminole War, one of the bloodiest and costliest battles of the American Indian wars. Many of the pioneer families that built the town of Jupiter as well as Trapper Nelson, the Wild Man of the Loxahatchee, called the banks of the river home.

Although the Loxahatchee is a protected river, it has not escaped the ecological impacts of development and change. The National Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River has suffered from saltwater intrusion since the 1940s. The native bald cypress died in the lower reaches of the river and were replaced by mangroves. Since the 1980s various restoration projects within the park and outside the park have increased freshwater flows to the river. As a result, park staff are now re-introducing bald cypress in the floodplain of the Loxahatchee River to restore these areas to what they once were.