Exploring NE Florida's Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Jun 12, 2017

WJCT presents a collaboration between the University of North Florida's Environmental Center and Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida on 19 short videos showcasing the city, state and national parks of the First Coast, produced by Sean Lahav, a project leader in the environmental leadership program.

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Near the northern tip of Atlantic Beach, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park  is one of the most popular parks in Jacksonville, offering activities ranging from fishing in the freshwater lake to surfing off the shore.

Hours: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Admission: $3 per pedestrian and bicyclist and $5 per vehicle (up to six people). An annual pass costs $99. 

Description

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park blends the area’s rich history and busy wildlife into 450 acres, which includes a pristine beach, an expansive dune system, and live oak hammocks. The park serves as the stomping ground for shorebirds, wading birds, foxes, snakes and alligators. From May through October, turtles nest on the beach.

History

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park encompasses the historic Burnside Beach and Manhattan Beach, which was an African-American beach during the period of segregation. Bustling recreational getaways, both beaches teemed with cottages, restaurants and pavilions.

In the late 1960s, Winthrop Bancroft, a prominent businessman and financier, donated 5 acres to Jacksonville with the request the land be named after Kathryn Abbey Hanna, a Chicago-born educator and historian. Jacksonville purchased the surrounding property and established Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.

Amenities

Shelters, which are available for reservation, dot the park, while a camping ground with full hook-ups spans the southern tip, close to a camp store. A primitive camping area is located to the north. The 60-acres, freshwater lake in the heart of the park features amenities, including a picnic area, a boat ramp, canoe rentals and a fishing pier.

The Poles boardwalk at the northern edge of the park provides easy access to surf-friendly ocean waters. Five boardwalks lead to the ocean shore. Dolphin Plaza offers a 2,000 square-foot oceanfront location ideal for reunions and weddings.

A boardwalk leads to a freshwater lake in Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.
Credit SEAN LAHAV / UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA'S ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER

Activities

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is suitable for hiking, biking, wildlife observation, camping and surfing.

Camping

Tent camping costs $20.34 per day, while recreational vehicle camping is $33.90. Cabins also cost $33.90 per day but require a minimum two-day stay. 

Parking 

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park has plenty of parking space with a dozen of parking lots along the beach and the lake. 

Directions via Interstate 295: Take I-295 toward Merrill Road. Use exit 45 to continue onto Merrill Road and follow it as it continues east under the names Fort Caroline Road, McCormick Road and Mt. Pleasant Road. And after roughly 5 miles, the name changes again to Wonderwood Drive, which ends at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.

Vince Kong can be reached at vkong@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter @teamvincek