MELBOURNE — Now that the weather is getting cooler, it’s the perfect time of year to get outdoors again. Taking a walk is still a great form of exercise the whole family can enjoy, and one that adheres to the social distancing standards of the day.
Brevard provides residents with a myriad of hiking, biking, and walking trails that are sure to please everyone. One of them is Brevard Zoo Linear Park, Phase I of which was completed in 2014, and yet many Brevard residents remain unaware of its existence.
Tucked beyond the Brevard Zoo entrance, off Murrell road in Melbourne, you’ll come upon the seemingly nondescript trail artfully hidden from view like buried treasure, and what a treasure it is.
The trail opens onto a 10-foot wide boardwalk made from recycled plastic planks. You can walk, bike, or rollerblade your way under majestic oak hammocks, Spanish moss swaying in the breeze. At certain points, the trees create a beautiful canopy overhead offering respite from the heat of day.
Phase II, completed in 2019, begins at about the 1-mile mark. From this point, a paved pathway extends the trail an additional 1.9 miles, ending at Turtle Mound, thus providing a 3-mile excursion one-way, or 6 miles total round-trip.
Interestingly enough, Linear Park was constructed along a portion of the historic Hernandez-Capron Trail, considered the first road from St. Augustine to Fort Capron (modern day Fort Pierce). You can learn all about this road, commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1837, and many other cultural and historical aspects of the park via informational signs posted along the way.
Various forms of wildlife can be spotted making this location ideal for naturalists and bird lovers.
“It’s a great place to see feral pigs, hawks, gopher tortoises, and butterflies, plus the occasional bobcat or alligator,”said Elliot Zirulnik, Brevard Zoo Communications Manager. Educational signs teach you all about the rich wildlife you may encounter as well.
“Parkgoers can catch a glimpse of our behind-the-scenes Sea Turtle Healing Center from the boardwalk,”said Mr. Zirulnik. And if you happen to be around the main entrance around 1 p.m. give or take, you may get a glimpse of the giraffes as well.
Walkers, bikers, and hikers of every fitness level can take advantage of Linear Park, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, and every sojourn can be a different experience.
It can be fitness-minded one day, a photo-op the next day, and the third could be a leisure walk among the trees.
The park is accessible from Brevard Zoo, Pineda Causeway, or Turtle Mound. However, traditional parking is only offered at the Brevard Zoo entrance.
You can park on the grass on Pineda Parkway, just east of the I95 overpass. You can’t miss the parade of cars lined up fairly early along the shoulder.
“Parking was extended this summer for Brevard Zoo customers and Linear parkgoers alike,” said Mr. Zirulnik, “although walkers and bikers will prefer to utilize the parking closer to the trail’s entrance, just after the Brevard Zoo visitor entry gate.
The park land was donated by the Duda family, built in partnership with the Brevard Zoo and county parks. It’s maintained by the Zoo, but managed by Parks & Recreation, abiding by all county rules.
“There are no water fountains along the trail, so make sure you bring plenty of water,”advised Mr. Zirulnik, which brings to mind that the trail is also ideal for a picnic lunch. Several benches and garbage receptacles are placed along the way for your convenience.
If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, are interested in wildlife, or want to learn a few interesting historical facts about our neck ‘o the woods, consider the Brevard Zoo Linear Park as your one-stop shop!
For more information, please contact Brevard County Parks & Recreation, 321-633-2046.