St. Lucie, Fl. is absolutely awesome for beach and intra-coastal waterway access. There is beachside and intra-coastal waterway access parking all the way along Hutchinson Island to Ft. Pierce. Beaches are diverse, from the abstract rocky shoreline of Bathtub Beach to the wide flat sandy beaches along the main part of the coast.
My family moved to St. Lucie while I was in college to escape the increasingly busy waterways and high cost of living in Lake Worth, where I had grown up. The water isn’t always as blue, but the beaches are wide and it isn’t ever hard to find a spot to park or a spot on the beach, even at the height of the tourist season.
Summer days visiting with my family in St. Lucie are spent on the beach or out on the boat, but on windy winter days we find ourselves seeking a new outdoors activity. During most of the year the last thing you want to do is walk through the palmettos with nothing but the occasional pine tree for shade, but in the cool winter, this sunny place with palmettos for shelter from the wind is very pleasant.
Wander in Solitude
The Savannah Preserve State Park stretches over ten miles, and has several points of parking and entry. In the dozens of times that I’ve parked off of Jensen Beach Blvd, I have seen maybe two other people here.
There’s a really great chance you’ll have this gorgeous place to yourself.
If it’s rained recently, you’re likely to encounter some wet spots along the way, but there are usually dry enough paths through.
A Place of Constant Change
The Savannahs are a place of constant change. Rains come and flood the low areas, leaving only hammocks of pine trees, palmettos, and the raised path, making the Savannah look like a swamp. Then dry spells come and turn it into a desert. Fires rage periodically, burning old and dead growth and giving life to new seedlings.
At the Jensen Beach entry a controlled burn had been done not too long ago. The pine trees stood dead and blackened, while at their bases new pine trees shot up, fluffy with baby growth. In the rich ash and sunshine, wildflowers are everywhere. The delicate beauty of a wildflower among the rough grasses always startles me.
The Dynamic Drosera
Another fascinating discovery left me crouching in the mud for some time. Sundews, or Drosera, are carnivorous plants that attract insects and catch them on the sticky substance they release from their leaves. The sundews are enthralling with their otherworldly appearance.
These sundews are protected, but you may be able to find healthy carnivorous plants for sale at your local nursery. My local Gainesville nursery, Garden Gate Nursery, sells a variety of carnivorous plants, including Drosera.
After seeing how beautiful the wild plants are, it is hard not to start your own bog garden. Here in Florida, many carnivorous plants like Drosera can be grown outdoors year round.
Some luck can be had growing them in indoor open or closed terrariums as well, but they like a lot of sun and very high humidity, which can be hard to provide indoors. A great compromise can be made with open dish gardens that can be set on an outdoor table most of the time and brought in sometimes to enjoy.
Finding Higher Ground
After walking for some time through the park around the Jensen Beach entrance, my mom wanted to see more water and walk through less of it, so we piled back in the car and went to the entrance on SE Green River Parkway.
Here, an attractive and naturally planted waterway divides the road from a path that parallels the park. There are also pathways into the park from here.
Mallards were wintering in the waterway and we saw a snowy egret and night heron before walking long.
Numerous large apple snail shells scattered along the shoreline indicated the presence of a limpkin. Limpkins eat mollusks, with apple snails dominating their diets. They make a strange call like a scream or a wail, not like anything else I’ve ever heard.
I was gratified to finally see the limpkin, surrounded by the largest cache of apple snail shells I’ve ever seen.
Lisa had a lovely time and managed to roll in something yucky and brown. No adventure is complete without a good roll in the mud.
Lisa is a true terrier: perpetually curious, always has to get her paws into it, whatever “it” might be. If it stinks, she will roll in it. If it runs, it takes all of her control not to chase it.
Also true to the terrier, she’ll follow you through anything and go anywhere with you. It’s amazing how far she will happily romp on those little legs.
The Savannah’s Preserve remains a favorite winter Florida activity, especially on windy days.