Updated: May 19, 2021
12157 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226
May 8th 2021
Little Talbot Island is a totally new location for me. I've heard a lot about it from locals, and have finally made the trip to see it for myself. It is a fairly short hike compared to other preserves trails. This untouched beach in a unique experience. There are very few undeveloped beaches throughout Florida, and to experience one with such soft sand, pristine water and beautiful wildlife seems almost unreal. The miles of rugged beach gives you a glimpse into Florida before the 1920's land boom.
Little Talbot provides hiking, surfing, beaching, and camping for a small fee. What makes this barrier island uniquely beautiful is the bare white driftwood comprised of cedar and palm that create string of natural ornaments down the coast.
Because Little Talbot is a barrier island, it's coast line is always changing with the continual deposit of sand from the coastal tides. As waves repeatedly deposit sediment along the shoreline and wind and waves shift to weather patterns, barrier islands like Little Talbot constantly move, erode, and grow. They can even disappear entirely.
Evidence of this can be seen in the 4 mile Dune Trail loop. Rangers suggest hikers begin their hike on the hardwood side, because the entrance to the trail on the beach side changes everyday with the tides, and sometimes washes away completely.
The signage for the hike was lacking. The trail map was not as clearly defined as other maps I have used, and the trail head marker was covered by shrubs and caution cones. I had to ask two different rangers where the trail head was. I felt the signage is for very experienced hikers, even though it is a relatively short and easy hike (only 4 mile loop).
There was an abundance of signage for the local sea turtles. This sign gives a throughout overview of the Kemp Ridley turtle. From its diet to life cycle and where they travel. The bottom right has a summary of how you can help sea turtles, bringing it full circle from education to personal impact.
(with universal message)
As with any natural preserve, there is a higher presence of wildlife to be cautions of than residential areas. And at Little Talbot, that caution is focus on the sea turtle. This sign is a good example of intangible, universal signage, as it connects directly to the viewer and instructs them on how to conduct themselves to do what is best for the local sea turtles.
As mentioned before, the landscape is ever-changing. The Dune trail meanders over ancient dune ridges, under oak canopies, through palms and leaves all in a beautiful lush maritime hammock.
In my video below, you can see the successional stages of the ever-changing barrier island.
Predominant Plants and Ecosystems
Salt Tolerant Vegetation
The dunes along this barrier island are full of salt tolerant plants like sea oats and rail road vines. These plants have strong roots systems which keep the dune formation in place leaves that trap the incoming sand to add even more to the dunes.
As these more salt tolerant plants survive, they create a buffer for less tolerant plants like oak trees, pine trees and sable palms to grow. Eventually creating the hovering canopy hardwood hammock we have today.
A much smaller life that is among this coastal region can be found crackling beneath our feet - seashells. These shells are what is left of the marine animals that once lived in them.
All images featured are taken by myself.