Five more miles of the Bluegill Trail opens Nov. 10, giving pedestrians, hikers, cyclists, and equestrians access from Riverbend/Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park in Jupiter south to Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach.
“People want alternatives to driving. There will be access to other recreation areas, such as the Loxahatchee Slough, Palm Beach County’s largest natural area, and public kayak and boat docks,” said Samantha Corr, environmental analyst with Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management.
Palm Beach County’s Bluegill Trail follows the eastern side of the C-18 Canal between Riverbend Park in Jupiter and Karen T. Marcus Sandhill Crane Access Park in Palm Beach Gardens.
The first five-mile section from Riverbend Park south to Sandhill Crane Park on the north side of PGA Boulevard, just west of Mirasol, opened about three years ago. The 10-foot-wide trail is made of asphalt rock that is especially popular with mountain bikes, said Corr.
“That section isn’t suitable by cyclists with thin tires,” said Corr.
The new section from Sandhill Crane Park south to the Grassy Water Preserve is paved — suitable for thin tires — and is 12-feet wide. The cost for the project was about $580,000, paid by the Florida Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organization, City of West Palm Beach, and City of Palm Beach Gardens.
The new trail is likely to be popular with residents of the nearby Mirasol and PGA National developments, said Corr.
Horse riding on the Bluegill Trail is best between Riverbend Park and Sandhill Crane Access Park since there is a grassy swale, hitching posts, mounting blocks, and pitcher pump. Hiking and cycling are available the entire length from Riverbend Park in Jupiter to Grassy Waters Preserve, said Corr.
Riverbend Park, a square-mile park on the south side of Indiantown Road about 1 mile west of Florida’s Turnpike, has connections to Northeast Everglades Natural Area, Northeast Everglades Trail and Ocean-to-Lake Trail.
A $3 million renovation of the park is underway to replace the dirt parking lot with a paved one, build a new kayak launching area, construct observation towers in the Seminole War battlefield area and — most important to many — introducing potable water and flush toilets.
A ribbon-cutting is planned on November 10 at 10 a.m. at Karen T. Marcus Sandhill Crane Access Park, 8175 PGA Blvd. For information, call 561-233-2455. The event is free and open to the public.