Smyrna Dunes Park

boardwalk

Located on the south side of the Ponce de Leon Inlet, this county park is a perfect complement to its northern neighbor, Lighthouse Point Park. It’s also another good place to search for Purple Sandpiper in winter. A 1.5-mile boardwalk winds around the park perimeter, providing easy access for all mobility levels. Moving counterclockwise from the parking lot, the trail first passes through a hardwood hammock good for warblers in spring migration, then on to the oceanfront where birders can check the beach for loafing gulls, terns, and shorebirds. Don’t forget your spotting scope to search for distant loons and ducks! Plovers like the north end of the beach by the inlet; watching Northern Gannets plunge dive for fish at the inlet’s mouth is fun. An observation platform on the northwest side provides another excellent vantage point. Wrapping around the west side of the point, three boardwalk spurs lead out towards the Indian River, where you can scan the sandbars for loafing shorebirds, pelicans and cormorants. This is an easy walk where you can spot a diversity of birds without ever leaving the boardwalk. Watch for Gopher Tortoises, Savannah Sparrows, Common Ground-Doves and Loggerhead Shrikes in the park’s sandy interior. Bring sun protection, as there is little shade available. Morning hours and low tide tend to be best for birding. Guided nature walks and educational programs are offered; call for more information.

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