Brilliant pink orchids. The clatter of sandhill cranes. Ferns rising from depression marshes. Cabbage palms shading your campsite. These are reasons to head into the woods on the second of two stacked loops for long distance roaming within Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the Kitching Creek Loop. It’s connected to the East Loop via a short linear connector trail through the pine flatwoods. It is frequently wet underfoot in this part of the forest, as you transition away from scrub habitats and into floodplain areas along the Loxahatchee River, a wild and scenic river into which Kitching Creek flows. The campsite is a popular backpacking destination, as it’s the farthest campsite from the park entrance if you do both loops (17 miles). It’s also possible to access this trail via the nature trails near the Loxahatchee River, creating a 7.5-mile loop.
Location: Hobe Sound
Length: 7.5 miles if approached from the Kitching Creek Nature Trail, or part of a 17-mile double loop including the East Loop and a 1.3 mile connector
Lat-Long: 26.992473, -80.146502
Type: Loop with connectors to other trails
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee, camping fee
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: At the Kitching Creek Nature Trail trailhead
You must check in with park rangers before backpacking to ensure that there is space remaining at the backcountry campsite. There is an extra fee for camping. The campsite, resplendent in a lovely lush tropical setting, is down a 0.4 mile side trail which is now part of the Ocean-to-Lake Trail. The creek is nearby, providing a water source.
For more information: Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Take Florida’s Turnpike exit 116 or I-95 exit 87A, SR 706 (Indiantown Rd), Jupiter. Drive east 5 miles to US 1. Turn left and continue north 5.1 miles to the park entrance on the left. Park your car at the parking area adjacent to the ranger’s station at the entrance