VIDEO: Exploring NE Florida's Dutton Island Park & Preserve

Apr 24, 2017

WJCT presents a collaboration between the University of North Florida's Environmental Center and Public Trust Law 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.

Dutton Island Park & Preserve, Dutton Island Drive

With residential neighborhoods along its edges, Dutton Island Preserve offers an escape into nature in west Atlantic Beach.

Amid the backdrop of the Intracoastal Waterway, the park features both woods and marshes that provide ideal grounds for wildlife encounters and water escapades.

Description 

Located east of the Intracoastal Waterway, Dutton Island sprawls over diverse land and maritime ecosystems. The area is a favorite for birds like herons, wood storks, spoonbills and osprey.

Pristine and secluded, Dutton Island accommodates two parks. To the east lie an area of pine and oak woods intersected with hiking trails. To the west stretches an expanse of salt marsh. 

Hours: 7:30 am. to dusk (hours subject to change based on season)

History

Originally known as Pine Island, it was part of Walter Dutton’s estate until the city of Atlantic Beach purchased it in 1998 for over $1 million.

Once described as a “project too big for the city to handle,” the preserve and park expanded and consolidated in three phrases that required the efforts of Jacksonville and Atlantic Beach authorities, state agencies and conservation organizations. 

Amenities

  • Dutton Island boasts a canoe and kayak launch on the south tip
  • Three picnic shelters, including six tables
  • A fishing pier on the north end
  • Two wildlife observation posts
  • Five campsites with fire rings
  • Restrooms are also on site
  • Camping is available by permit from Atlantic Beach’s Department of Recreation and Special Events. So are private gatherings such as weddings and reunions.

Credit SEAN LAHAV / UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA'S ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER

Trails

The preserve features unpaved trails that meander for over a mile through the woods but also allow views of the marsh. A marked kayak trail cuts through the marsh to guide water enthusiasts. 

Advice

If you are to explore the park during the summer, arm yourself with plenty of bug repellent.

Parking

Dutton Island Preserve has a 47-spot parking lot with no admission fees. 

Location

The largest park in Atlantic Beach, Dutton Island Preserve commences at the end of Dutton Island Drive.

Direction Via Atlantic Boulevard: Head east on Atlantic Boulevard and turn onto Mayport Road toward Naval Station Mayport. After less than two miles, turn left onto Dutton Island Road. In half a mile, you will reach Dutton Island Reserve.

Dima Vitanova can be reached at dima93vitanova@gmail.com and Vince Kong can be reached at vkong@wjct.org