Riverbend Park – Jupiter, FL

Well, we are full steam ahead into 2016 and I am sure it’ll take me another 3 months to write 2016 with ease.  Living in a warm climate gives me a little extra motivation to stay fit year round because I can’t hide behind baggy sweaters here!  We’ve been trying to think of a few family activities that don’t involve eating or sitting (we still love you, movie theater).  Florida knows how to “do” parks and there  are several around we have been wanting to check out.  Here’s how we spent our Saturday morning.

Riverbend Park is not only a great place to get some exercise while enjoying nature, you can fit in a history lesson as well!  The park is over 680 acres of trails and waterways on the Loxahatchee River. We chose to run the trials while the kids biked and scooted.  There are over 10 miles of trails winding through the park and the palm and cypress trees make excellent shade cover so you don’t overheat.  We loved how the “compacted shell rock” trails were bike-friendly, although our youngest had a hard time with the small wheels of his Razor scooter.  I didn’t say it was a continuous run, but we got exercise.

Riverbend park 1
Sweaty family selfie

There are trail maps and directional signs all over and just when you think you are lost, they’ve cleverly placed another map within sight.

Riverbend Park 2
Trail maps are plentiful so you don’t have to panic that you are lost.

 

Riverbend Park 3
Enjoying the shade of the giant palms lining the trails.

We were hoping to spot an alligator on our trek but, didn’t see any.  Other animals that call this park home are deer, raccoons and river otters.  For the birding enthusiasts, there are over 130 species to be spotted.  When we pulled up in the parking lot, a beautiful peacock strutted by.  One way to enjoy the wildlife up close is to hit the waterways and either canoe or kayak through the park.  You can go on trips lasting 2-7 hours, depending on your route and your patience.  The park welcomes private vessels but, you can also rent a canoe or kayak if you don’t own one.  No motorized boats are allowed so if peace and quiet is what you are after, this is about as zen as it gets (unless your kids are on board)!

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Kayakers enjoying the serenity of the river.
There are plenty of shady spots to picnic and play throughout the park beneath the Chickee huts.

 

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Chickee huts are great for picnic lunches and scavenger hunt bases
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One of the most unique features of Riverbend Park is the Loxahatchee River Battlefield, the site of one of the Seminole War Battles January 15-24, 1838.  There are complimentary tours on Saturdays, courtesy the Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists.  Apparently the tours are kid-friendly and a great way to experience some of the less well-known pieces of American History.  Okay history buffs, recall the Indian Removal Act of 1830?  The Seminole Indians called this part of the country home until they were forced out by American troops.  Major General Thomas Jesup led troops to collide with the Seminoles on the banks of the Loxahatchee River on January 24, 1838.

We did not fit this tour into our first visit to the park but, we hope to be back soon to learn more about the local history.

All in all, the Riverbend Park is a great place to spend a morning or the whole day!  While it’s only about 10 miles from the beach, it feels like it is a world away.

Quick tips for busy moms
1.  If you’re bringing your own wheels, choose bikes vs. scooters.  The trail is a little bumpy and not a fun ride with small, hard wheels.
2.  You can rent bikes, canoes and kayaks Thurs-Mon if you don’t have your own.
3.  During droughts or little rain, the waterways are shallow and many “trails” are closed.  Check the website  before you go.
4.  The park can get a bit buggy because it is surrounded by marsh water.  Bring bugspray.
5.  There aren’t any places to grab a sip of water so be sure to bring your own.
6.  Unfortunately, they don’t allow pets so it’s not a place to give Rover a walk.
7.  When in Florida, don’t forget your sunscreen!

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