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The Historic Jungle Trail-Vero Beach

The Historic Jungle Trail is an 8-mile sandy road on Orchid Island - a barrier island along the Indian River north of Vero Beach. The Historic Jungle trail winds along a sandy road through the hammock habitat of Florida's barrier islands north of Vero Beach.

The trail—really a road—was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 because of its significance to the development of Indian River County and Orchid Island. But it was built in the 1920s so that citrus growers could haul their produce up and down the barrier island.

Neighbors used it then to visit each other and ride their carriages through it and also their horses. The historic Jungle Trail was once popular with tourists for its roadside fruit stands at Jones Pier and the Jungle Treasure House gift shop and tea room, which was the inspiration for the road's name. Cars now also share this road but there were only 2 that I saw and it was no problem.

The stretch of dirt road wanders through mangroves on the north side and parallels the Indian River waterway on the south. I only made it 6 miles. I got to Captain Forster's Hammock Preserve and turned around because it really is tiring being it is hard packed sand and it really gave me a workout. They had a pretty cool old fireplace on the side of the property.

Visitors out for a drive could travel to Richard Milton Jones's fruit stand, and until his death in 2011, maybe talked with Jones himself about Pioneer History.

The Joneses were early pioneering settlers who lived on the property for more than 115 years. Jones grew and sold vegetables and fruit behind his property along Jungle Trail. Boaters often docked at the pier to buy produce. He used to charge 50 cents to fish off his pier all day because the river was just so abundant with fish.

From the northern end point, the trail begins in Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the nation's first wildlife refuge established in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt to protect birds from feather hunters. Bird feathers were widely used to decorate women's hats in the early 20th century, and Florida's barrier islands were teeming with the most vulnerable of species. So I parked my car at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, where they had a nice restroom, and then got my bike and hit the trail.

The road is sandy but mostly hard packed and easy going for wide-tire bicycles. Some places can get soft at times.

I almost made it the whole way! Next time I'll eat my Wheaties!


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