Get Outside in the Fall
Enjoy the fall in Northeast Florida
By Rachel Austin
Now that the summer is ending, what will you be doing outdoors this fall? With the change of seasons comes a change in the rhythm of outdoor recreational opportunities in our area.
We are fortunate to live in an area with so many natural land and waterscapes to explore. As the summer slowly fades into fall the focus changes from hot summer days filled with building sandcastles and playing in the surf to enjoying the other side of the dunes.
Jacksonville is nestled between two of the most authentically preserved coastal areas of East Florida. With the 46,000 acre Timucuan Preserve to the north and the even larger GTMNERR natural area to our south. These areas provide us with thousands of acres to explore and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Just choose your mode of transport (trail shoes, bike, kayak, canoe, paddle board, sailboat, ect…) get a map, and start exploring.
I am a professional guide and naturalist and I have been taking families and adults on adventure into the “Real Florida” for the past ten years. These adventures range from walking and biking to kayaking eco tours, sailing trips, or any activity that gets me and my group of fellow adventures out in these environments . Here are some tips to help you maximize your comfort and fun in Florida’s wilderness.
Fall is a great time to enjoy the seasonal migration of birds in our area. We have over 260 species of birds that migrate through NEF and as heat of the summer is subsiding. Some might say that Florida does not have seasons, however if your planning outdoor activities there are definitely certain times and places that are more enjoyable than others depending on the time of year. When choosing nature activities for your family and friends this fall take the season, tide, and weather into account. I prefer to stay on the water in the early fall because the woods are still warm and the bugs are very thick. The bugs can deter even the most adventurous soul, but fortunately they are usually not on the water. Bugs like hanging around the trees because they are protected from the wind, so just plan on getting on the water as soon as humanly possible and use bug spray before you leave the house to ensure your safety.
Even though the fall brings cooler weather and other seasonal changes, one can still enjoy being on the water up until late December. My favorite mode of being on the water is kayaking because it allows me to explore one of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the coastal environment: the estuaries. I feel a kayak is great for these waterways because they are made to navigate through places where you will encounter wind, current, and tidal flow. I also love canoeing in protected areas like some tributaries off the St. John’s River. Stand u p paddle boarding is another great way to explore coastal water, just be aware of oyster beds, they are very sharp and have a lot of bacteria. If you are planning an activity on the water make sure you understand the tides. A professional guide can help you get the most of out your outdoor experience, especially if you are new to the outdoors.
Towards the end of the fall I add in some more off water activities.
The onset of the fall brings us many amazing changes in the countless array of tributaries that wind through the ever changing estuary