Lace up your boots or lather on your sunscreen and get ready to explore nature at one of St. Lucie’s many natural areas where you’ll find the local flora, fauna, marine life and history awaiting discovery.
Steven J. Fousek Natural Area
The Steven J. Fousek Natural Area is a 495-acre compilation of three preserves in western St. Lucie. These preserves are prime locations for observing butterflies, bird life as well as a unique variety of native plant species. The early riser is sure to be awarded with glimpses of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, swallowtail kites, painted buntings and the occasional owl.
Spruce Bluff is one of the most diverse natural areas in St. Lucie, rich in both species and history. The site is known for an early pioneer settlement (Spruce Bluff) established in the late 1800’s. It is also home to a prehistoric Indian mound believed to be built by the Ais. Trails and boardwalks meander through a mosaic of imperiled Florida Scrub habitat, shady bayheads, and beautiful depression wetlands.
The Oxbow Eco-Center is a 225-acre preserve with more than three miles of hiking trails, observation decks and boardwalks. Trails and boardwalks take visitors through the pine flatwoods where they may observe pine warblers, woodpeckers and the imperiled gopher tortoise. The trail system also takes visitors along the St. Lucie River North Fork, where lucky observers may witness manatees, otters and alligators
D.J. Wilcox Preserve
Situated along the Indian River Lagoon, the D.J. Wilcox Preserve offers visitors a peek at the diverse splendor of Florida’s native habitats. Visitors may choose from a 1-mile interpretive trail through lush hammocks and pine flatwoods or take a stroll along the Indian River Lagoon, one of the most diverse estuaries in North America. Visitors may expect to see osprey and hawks, brown pelicans, and a variety of wading birds, including the roseate spoonbill.
George Lestrange Preserve
A man-made catch-and-release lake is at the center of this 94-acre preserve. Visitors may enjoy a casual walk along a semipaved path around the lake, or choose to immerse themselves on a 1-mile adventure along the shores of Ten Mile Creek. The latter guides visitors through the lush floodplain, home to beautyberry, water hickory, ferns and bromeliads. Frequent wildlife sightings include osprey, bald eagles, and a variety of water fowl and wading birds.