Jonathan Dickinson State Park – Hobe Sound, Florida (Complete Guide)


Jonathan Dickinson State Park is a 10,500-acre park that is located in Hobe Sound, Florida approximately 30 minutes north of West Palm Beach.  The park is the largest state park in Southeastern Florida and named for a Quaker merchant who became shipwrecked in 1696 and subsequently were captured by the Jobe (Hoe-Bay) Indians.

In 1942 the land occupied by the park known as Camp Murphy which was US Army radar training facility.  Home to the Southern Signal Corps School during World War II, the base consisted of almost 1,000 buildings that housed 854 officers and 5,752 enlisted men.  Before being decommissioned in 1944, the camp featured a number of buildings including a movie theater, church and bowling alley.  In 1950 the US Government transferred the site to the State of Florida for a State Park. 

The 17 square mile site that is now home to Jonathan Dickinson State Park has a number of different ecosystems.  The park consists of sixteen (16) individual natural communities with the five major communities being The Scrub, Wet Prairie, Wet Flatwoods, Tidal Swamp and Floodplain Swamp. The western side of the park intersects with the Loxahatchee River which was designates as a “National Wild & Scenic River”.

Today the park features include two campgrounds plus twelve rental cabins, miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, swimming and water activities, guided tours, playgrounds, picnic areas and an education center.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does is cost to visit Jonathan Dickinson State Park?

The cost to visit the park is $6.00 per vehicle for up to eight people.  For single-occupant vehicles and motorcycles the cost is $4.00.  There are additional fees for the campsites, boat ramp, river tours and water activity rentals.

Where is Jonathan Dickinson State Park located?

Jonathan Dickinson State Park is located in Hobe Sound, Florida off of SE Federal Highway (US Highway One), approximately 30 minutes north of West Palm Beach.

Are their campgrounds at Jonathan Dickinson State Park?

There are several campgrounds at Jonathan Dickinson State Park which include the Pine Grove Campground, the River Campground, Kitchen Creek Campsites and the Equestrian Campground Campsites.  Primitive camping is also permitted and air-conditioned cabins are offered.

Can you boat from Jonathan Dickinson State Park?

Jonathan Dickinson State Park features a boat ramp that provides access to the Loxahatchee River.  Park visitors can also rent a motorboat or take a guided river boat tour.

Does Jonathan Dickinson State Park have bike trails?

Jonathan Dickinson State Park features a number of paved and off-road bike trails which includes several multi-use trails as well as the Camp Murphy Off-Road Bicycle Trail System.

Is there dining facilities at Jonathan Dickinson State Park?

Jonathan Dickinson State Park has The River Store near the Cypress Creek pavilion and the boat dock which has refreshments and snacks.  In addition, the park is home to Palmettos on the Loxahatchee which offers a variety of local and organic foods.

Is Jonathan Dickinson State Park pet friendly?

Jonathan Dickinson State Park is pet friendly and well behaved pets are permissible in the campgrounds.

Recreation and Activities

There are a number of different options for recreation and activities at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.  Equipment rentals as well as drinks & snacks can be purchased at the concession store.

Bicycling

Jonathan Dickinson State Park has extensive biking options on both paved and off-road trails.  There are a number of multi-use trails including a two-mile paved trail that trains along Park Drive from the picnic area to the river area along with the 8.7-mile Ocean-to-Lake trail which is accessible through other trail systems.  There is also the 8-mile Eagles View multi-use trail located north of the equestrian area.

What sets Jonathan Dickinson apart for bicycling is the Camp Murphy Off Road Bicycle Trail. which features there separate trails for beginners / novice riders, intermediate riders and expert / advanced riders.

It should be noted that helmets are required at all times when bike riding within the park.  

The Green trail is for beginners & novice riders and features the Tortoise (0.76 miles) & the Hare (0.70 miles) while the Blue trail is for intermediate riders.  The Blue trails features are as follows:

  • Ranger
  • Lake
  • Gator Hole
  • Palmetto
  • Bypass
  • Fire Ring
  • Prickly Pear
  • Eight Tenths
  • Silo
  • Middle Ridge
  • Osprey
  • Big Burn
  • Doe
  • Root Loop

The Half-Pipe is recommended only for the most advanced riders.

Nature Trails / Hiking

Jonathan Dickinson state Park has a number of designated hiking trails that are as follows:

  • Kitching Creek Nature Trail (1.5 miles)
  • Wilson Creek Nature Trail (0.5 miles)
  • River Trail (0.75 miles)
  • Ocean-to-Lake (9.4 miles)
  • White Loop Trail (4.9 miles)
  • Green Loop Trail (7.5 miles)
  • Hobe Mountain Trail (boardwalk trail to the Hobe Mountain Observation Tower)

There are also several multi-use trails including the 8.7 mile Ocean-to-Lake trail and the 8-mile Eagles View trail system.  The following map shows the Florida Trail System in Jonathan Dickinson state Park.

Water Activities

Jonathan Dickinson State Park offers a number of  recreational water activities that will keep everyone in the family busy not only for the day, but for the entire weekend.

Canoe, Kayak and Paddle Boarding

With it’s location along the serene Loxahatchee River, the park is the perfect spot for paddle water sports including canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding.  Visitors can bring their our equipment (and utilize the boat ramp to launch) or rent directly from the concession store.

Rental costs for the paddle water sports equipment is as follows:

  • Canoe (2 hours): $28.00
  • Single kayak (2 hours): $23.00
  • Double kayak (2 hours): $33.00
  • Paddle Board (1 hour): $25.00

Swimming

Jonathan Dickinson has a grassy swimming beach area where visitors can swim in the waters of the Loxahatchee River.  There are no lifeguards present so caution is recommended.  The swimming area is adjacent to the Loxahatchee picnic pavilion.

Motorboat Rentals

The park has a number of 16 foot Carolina Skiff motorboats that are offered for rent.  These boats are equipped with an outboard motor and are fairly easy to operate on the water.  Boat operators must be 21 years of age or older.

Motorboats cost $55.00 for a two hour rental with a$25.00 per hour charge for additional time.

Fishing

Visitors are permitted to fish in Loxahatchee River as well as in Kitching Creek and the ponds & lakes within the park.  Species include snook, snapper and bass as there are mixtures of freshwater, brackish and saltwater angling in this area.

Fishing must fall within the state regulations and a fishing license may be required.

Guided Boat Tours and Charters

There are multiple guided boat tours offered at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. 

Wilderness Guided River Boat Tour (Trapper Nelson Tour)

Visitors will enjoy a 1.0 hour “River Eco” tour up the Loxahatchee River with an optional visit to Trapper Nelson’s homestead (additional half hour).  Trapper Nelson, also know as the “Wildman of the Loxahatchee”, was one of the original locals coming to the area in the 1930’s.

Tours depart at 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM (tide permitting) and costs are as follows:

  • Adults: $23.00 (River only), $27.00 (Trapper Nelson’s)
  • Child (3 to 12): $12.50 (River only), $14.50 (Trapper Nelson’s)
  • Children under 3: Free

In addition to the River Eco and the Trapper Nelson tours, the park offers a salt water guided boat tour and special event group charters by request.

Equestrian

There are eight miles of multi-use trails at the park that starts at the Eagles View area.  Additionally, there is a five-site equestrian campground that is located off Park Drive.  Horses must be tethered overnight or confined in portable pens and proof of negative Coggins is required.

Starting at Thanksgiving and running until Easter, Jonathan Dickinson offers guided horseback rides ($35.00), handheld pony rides ($15.00) and guided wagon rides ($12.50).

Picnicking & Pavilions

Jonathan Dickinson features four picnic pavilions along with dozens of picnic tables and grills near the Loxahatchee River.  Three of the pavilions can be reserved for a fee and costs are as follows:

  • Loxahatchee Pavilion (up to 60 people): $60.00 plus tax
  • Wilson Creek Pavilion (up to 60 people): $60.00 plus tax
  • Kitching Creek Pavilion (up to 150 people): $100.00 plus tax

Camping and Cabins

The park features two family campgrounds, primitive campsites and equestrian campsite and private cabins. In 2021, USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel awards ranked Jonathan Dickinson State Park as the number two “Best State Park for RVers” and was the only park in Florida to be ranked in the top 10.

Campsites

There are two family campgrounds which include the 90-site Pine Grove Campground and the 52-site River Campground.  Both campgrounds have restrooms & showers with hot water as well as a washer & dryer.  All sites include water & electric service, a table & grill.  Sewer hookup is available on all Pine Grove campsites and this site also hosts a dump station.  The River Campground does not have sewer hookups or a dump site.

Pine Grove is located near the ranger station at the entrance on the east side of the park and the maximum RV length is 40 feet.  The River Campground is located near the Loxahatchee River, four miles deep into the park, and has a maximum RV length of 36 feet.  Family programs and activities are offered to campers every Saturday at the Kimbell Education & Visitors Center.

In addition to Pine Grove and the River Campground, there is a five-site Equestrian Campground campsite that is located off Park Drive. Primitive camping is also permitted at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Family and Equestrian campsites costs $26.00 per night plus a $7.00 per night utility fee.  Primitive camping costs $5.00 per night per adult and $1.00 per night per child.  Discounts are offered for senior citizens, disabled citizens and licenses family foster homes.

Cabins

In addition to the campgrounds, Jonathan Dickson State Park features 11 cabins that are located near the Education & Visitors Center as well at the Loxahatchee River.  Each cabin is furnished and includes a private bedroom with queen or full-size bed, a full bathroom, living area with sleeper sofa, kitchen with dinnerware & utensils and a dining area.

The cabins sleep approximately four to six people, depending on the cabin size and have outdoor picnic tables and charcoal barbecue grills.  Pets are not allowed in the cabins.

Cabins cost $85.00 per night from May through October and $95.00 per night from November through April.  There is a two night minimum stay and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

Visitor Center

The Elsa Kimbell Education & Visitors Center is located in the River Area of the park and is home to a number of exhibits, classrooms and a research laboratory.  Visitors learn about the parks ecosystems and can watch a video entitled, “A Balancing Act: Recreation and Preservation at Jonathan Dickinson State Park”.

In addition to the exhibits and experiences, visitors will enjoy a scavenger hunt where they will seek to find 32 different items that are spread out in the building.

The visitors center is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and offers family programs & activities every Saturday at 10:00 AM.

23 Things to Do at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

The park has put together a list of “23 Things to Do” when visiting the park. 

  1. Visit the Education Center
  2. Find (geocaching)
  3. Paddle the Wild & Scenic Loxahatchee River
  4. Pedal or Roll (bike, Rollerblade, etc)
  5. Ride (horseback)
  6. Climb to the Highest Natural Point in South Florida
  7. Learn about “The Wildman of the Loxahatchee”
  8. Find What You need (concession store)
  9. Go Birding
  10. Gator Watch
  11. Drive a Round-Trip Tour (auto tour)
  12. Join a Guided Nature Walk
  13. Have a Picnic
  14. Swim & Splash
  15. Swing, Slide & Climb
  16. Camp Out
  17. Bike
  18. Rent a Cabin in the Woods
  19. Capture Some Unforgettable Moments (photography)
  20. Simply Relax
  21. Smell the Flowers
  22. Volunteer or Join Friends of JDSP

Endless Summer

Endless Summer Florida is all about amazing places to vacation in Florida. From world class theme parks to white sandy beaches, there is so much to see and do in our state.

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