Quaint bridges, cypress-lined ponds, shady pine forests, magnificent old live oak trees, a historic battlefield, flocks of wild turkeys: They’re all part of the lovely landscape that makes Riverbend Park in Jupiter a delightful place to explore — and it’s free.
The Palm Beach County park is particularly fine for a family bicycling outing. It’s also the starting point for the outstanding canoe or kayak trip down the Loxahatchee.
With many chickee pavilions and picnic areas, it’s perfect for picnics too.
Riverbend Park kayaking
One of the best kayaking trips in southeastern Florida starts at Riverbend Park — paddling on the Loxahatchee, one of only two waterways in Florida designated as a Wild and Scenic River.
The Jupiter Outdoor Center has a large and professionally run operation here renting kayaks and canoes for trips of various lengths and demands.
From Riverbend Park, you have four main choices for a kayaking trip:
- A two to three hour trip where you paddle 1.8 miles to the second dam on the Loxahatchee and then back upstream against the current.
- For those new to kayaking not comfortable on their own, the same trip is offered as a guided kayaking tour.
- For experienced paddlers who want a longer, adventurous trip that includes several times where you must clamber over or under logs across the river, you can rent kayaks or canoes for a one-way five to six hour trip down the Loxahatchee to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which requires booking a shuttle ride back to your car via Jupiter Outdoor Center.
- For a short, easy paddle, You also can paddle the waterways within Riverbend Park.
That paddle down the Loxahatchee hasn’t changed in decades, which is good, because it is just about perfect.
Bike trails at Riverbend Park, Jupiter
Riverbend Park, Jupiter, has an extensive trail system; the entire 680 acres of Riverbend Park is criss-crossed with hard-packed shell trails designed to be shared by hikers and bicyclists. While not paved, the compacted shell rock surface was fine for our skinny-tire bikes.
Riverbend Park’s trails are all scenic, with many passing through shady woods and all of them providing vistas across marshes, ponds and rivers. We saw many families bicycling, and the short loops and wildlife seemed ideal for kids.
The trails are entwined, left over from when the property was a mobile-home park. It drove us a little batty trying to follow where we were on the detailed park trail map. Our advice: Give up and just enjoy the scenery. You can’t get lost and the worst that can happen is you’ll cover the same trail multiple times.riverbend-mpark-trail-map
The longest stretch for a cyclist who just wants to pedal through the woods is the 1.5 mile section of the Ocean to Lake portion of the Florida Trail that runs through Riverbend Park. I’d recommend taking that first and then meandering along the other trails. With 10 miles of trails, we managed to spend a nice afternoon doing that.
Bicyclists looking to add a few more miles to their ride can cross the bridge from Riverbend Park to the start of the Bluegill Trail. This sunny trail along the C-18 Canal will eventually be nine miles long and reach Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach. So far, 5.4 miles have been completed, extending to Sandhill Crane Access Point in Palm Beach Gardens. The trail goes through the Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area.
Jupiter Outdoor Center rents bicycles for adults and children.
Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park at Riverbend Park
Adjacent to Riverbend Park is a second natural area, this one preserving the site of two battles fought in the Second Seminole War. The Battles of the Loxahatchee were 1838 skirmishes between the Seminoles and the U.S. Military.
A one-mile battlefield trail winds through the northwest corner of this park, which features huge historic live oaks that were alive to witness those battles.
This less-developed area of the park is a good place to spot wildlife — we encountered deer and a flock of turkeys here.
Riverbend Park, Jupiter
9060 Indiantown Road
- Riverbend Park
- Jupiter Outdoor Center (for both bicycle and boat rentals)
- Florida Rambler story on canoeing or kayaking the Loxahatchee
- Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park
- Park’s trail map
- Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists
- Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage
Things to do in northern Palm Beach County:
- A great beach and kayaking spot, MacArthur State Park
- Peanut Island County Park, a beach, kayak and snorkeling destination with a unique historic site
- Lake Trail, a scenic bike trail on the elite island of Palm Beach
Things to do in the Jupiter area:
- Overview of outdoor and natural outings in Jupiter, including restaurants and hotels.
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park for hiking, biking camping, cabins, kayaking, birding and more.
- Kayaking the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River
- Blowing Rocks Preserve: Dramatic beach is unique
- Jupiter Inlet and Lighthouse Museum
- The “secret beach” at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
- Kayaking to St. Lucie Preserve State Park and its remote, pristine beach
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, free park with native animals
- Riverbend Park is great for family bicycling, picnics, walks
- Biking Jupiter Island, scenic low-traffic beachfront road
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The information in this article was accurate when published, but changes may occur.
The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.