Along Gomez Trail in the hardwood hammock at Seabranch Preserve State Park

In 1990, what is now Seabranch Preserve State Park was slated to be just another golf-course community on the western side of Indian River Lagoon. The the State of Florida teamed up with Martin County and bought the property in 1991, saving some of the last intact original south Florida pine scrub ecosystem from the developer's bulldozers. This is a place where a one-mile hike can lead you through a baygall community, a mangrove swamp, scrubby flatwoods and rare sand pine scrub. And Seabranch Preserve State Park offers eight miles of such trails.

Recreational development has been slow on this property but there are plans in the works to add interpretive displays and an elevated boardwalk to the existing trails and single picnic shelter (two picnic tables and a cooking grill but no running water).

Seabranch Preserve State Park is open for day use only, from 8 am until sunset every day of the year. There are no entrance fees charged (yet).

To get there: Seabranch Preserve State Park is located about 10 miles south of Stuart off State Route A1A. The main entry point is near the VFW parking lot.