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[ft-l] Smyrna Dunes

Rich and I had the opportunity to try a wonderful new-to-us beachside hike on 
Sunday, blue skies and sunshine, 80 degrees or so and a stiff salt breeze off 
the Atlantic over the sand dunes. New Smyrna Beach has a lovely hidden park, 
250 acres of preserved dunes and maritime forest, called, appropriately 
enough, "Smyrna Dunes."  After you cross the causeway on SR 44, turn left on 
Peninsula Blvd, and  follow it north until it ends.

The park edges Ponce Inlet, so you can see the old lighthouse from the 
boardwalk, as well as intriguing tall coastal dunes on the far shore of 
Mosquito Lagoon. The trail is all boardwalk -- at least 2 miles of boardwalk 
trail up and over dunes up to 20 feet high, and around a mangrove-edged salt 
marsh. It circles around a NASA tracking station with a funky geodesic dome, 
and passes through a beautifully-canopied maritime forest before climbing up 
and over the dunes, dropping down into low scrub (dunes that washed away in 
some hurricane or another) and then down to the marsh. 

Wildlife? Dozens of large gopher tortoises making their own trails across the 
landscape, an osprey diving down to snatch a snake off the sand, and an 
American kestrel watching the dunes for field mice. Lots of side trails (also 
boardwalks) down to the beach, so you can add in another mile or two of beach 
walk to the trek, which we did. Downside? Dogs. Lots of 'em. Seems this is 
one of the rare dog-friendly parks, and not every dog owner (although most of 
'em) scoops after the pooch, so you had to watch for doggie-doo on the boards 
and on the beach. Ick. We also caught a glimpse (heard it first, actually) of 
a fellow with a lemur, who then handed it off to his bikini-clad girlfriend 
so she could leave the park with a monkey on her back. Hmm... And then a 
serendipitous sighting of a zebra, back on the mainland, but that's another 

I tell you, it's times like these I'm glad I came back to Florida to live!
Cheers, Sandy