Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
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Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Flagler County protects 425 acres of coastal land. This includes 20 acres of impeccably kept formal gardens. These are the most famous feature of the park, exhibiting a range of plants and flowers both native and non-native to Florida including Azaleas, Birds of Paradise and Camelias.
The Rose Garden is one of the most popular formal gardens covering 3000 square feet with 10 rose varieties being planted in concentric circles to form a sunburst pattern. The garden is at its most beautiful in May when most roses are in season.
There are multiple trails which can be used for hiking and cycling. The Bella Vista Trails are multiple trails covering 1.7 miles including the Timucuan hiking trail and the Jungle Road. Most of the trails move along the coast offering scenic views. The Mala Compra 0.5 mile hiking loop passing over the tidal marsh along the river. Part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife trail, Washington Oaks is home to a variety of bird species. It also provides inviting habitat for birds migrating through the area. This makes Washington Oaks popular among wild life enthusiasts and bird watchers. Similarly the bodies of water of the area, particularly the seawall on the Matanzas River host a variety of fish including trout, drum, flounder and redfish. While the area presents many fishing possibilities, visitors fishing must comply with fishing regulations and obtain a Florida fishing license.
The nearby Atlantic beach shoreline is equally remarkable particularly due to its Coquina rock formations. In fact it is the second largest structure of Coquina rock, a limestone geological sedimentation process, dating hundreds of years. Visitors may also spot shells which adhered to the stone from a time when the rocks were submerged under water. The rocks are characterized by perfectly eroded rounded holes in the formation. At low tide the rock formation is exceptionally beautiful especially for exploration.
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The visitor center is an excellent place to learn about the flora and fauna of the area, including the park’s natural resources and events held throughout the year, including Earth Day. On the first Friday of each month visitors can follow one of the fun walks guided by the parks rangers. The park is open from 8am till sunset, with entrance being charged at $5 per vehicle, with $2 for pedestrians.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is equipped with picnic facilities such as tables and grills, shaded by the oak hammock that gives the park its name. There is also a fully accessible pavilion equipped with 10 tables, and 3 charcoal grills which can be rented out at $50. Close to the Matanzas rivers, a children playground is open for use, and there are restroom facilities at different locations. The pavilion, rose gardens and gazebo are often used as a wedding location, while the Coquina rock formation serves as a backdrop for many photo-shoots too.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a haven for anyone who loves nature. Whether you opt for a hike along the coast, a gentle stroll in one of the gardens or a picnic sheltered by the oak hammock this park is just magnificent.