South Florida is best known for its sugar cane farms, swamps such as the Everglades, cities like Miami and Naples, and Lake Okeechobee. One of the more secret special places is a relatively little-known "hill" called Hobe Mountain - an ancient sand dune near Jupiter Island that rises to a height of 84 feet above sea level. In this mostly flat land, Hobe Mountain is a unique location, which has an observation tower that is most easily accessed using a short boardwalk in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Jonathan Dickinson State Park itself is a mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, as it has over two dozen miles of hiking trails, in addition to many other recreational opportunities. On this day, I first hiked the short trail to Hobe Mountain, before embarking on a much longer hike through the park. This hike occurred on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016. My plan was to hike the boardwalk out and back to Hobe Mountain and its observation tower.
R/T Length of Trail: 0.3 Miles
Duration of Hike: 0:20
Type of Hike: Out and Back
Difficulty Rating: 1 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: Minimal
Pros: Boardwalk provides an easy passage over terrain with sensitive plants
Points of Interest: Hobe Mountain Observation Tower and its spectacular panoramic views of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound, Jupiter Island, and the Atlantic Ocean
Trail Blaze Color(s): None
Best Season(s) to Hike: Year-round
Fees: There is a $6 fee for entry to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, if your car has 2-8 passengers. For cars with just one passenger, the fee is $4.
Beginning Point: Hobe Mountain Trailhead
Directions from Jupiter, FL: From the intersection of US Route 1 and South Beach Road in Jupiter, simply follow US Route 1 North for 3.7 miles, at which point the park entrance will be to the left. Turn left, enter the park, pay your fee, and then just afterwards, turn right onto the main park road. In another 0.7 miles, turn right into a dead-end side road that leads to the Hobe Mountain Trailhead. Continue for another 0.7 miles to the parking area and trailhead on the right; the road after this is for authorized vehicles only.
Click here for more information and to download this trail map to view in Garmin Basecamp.
Being one of the premier hiking destinations in southeast Florida, Jonathan Dickinson State Park has an extensive trail system that passes through a variety of habitats. Before starting my main hike of the day, however, I wanted to hike the short nature trail to Hobe Mountain. Hobe Mountain is a relatively tall ancient sand dune, rising to a height of 84 feet above sea level just west of Hobe Sound. An observation tower at the top provides a spectacular 360-degree panorama of the surrounding land.
The entire walk to the observation tower is along a boardwalk. From the parking area, begin walking the boardwalk, which is on the east side of the road. The boardwalk gains elevation as it follows a ridge of sorts that is comprised of the highest dunes. As you approach the top of Hobe Mountain, your views of the surrounding land will gradually increase. The boardwalk ends at 0.15 miles at the base of the observation tower and the summit of Hobe Mountain. I noticed other user-created paths heading down the steep sandy slopes. Please do not use these paths; this is very sensitive terrain. Use only the official boardwalk to get to the top of Hobe Mountain.
The observation tower has three flights of steps. Climb up these steps to a wide observation deck where there is what might be one of the best long-range views in Florida. The views from the tower are as follows:
At the bottom of this post, I included a video of the entire panorama for you to look at. If you're hiking in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, this is a must-do stop, in my opinion. A view as good as this one is difficult to find in mostly flat Florida.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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