Exploring Hanna Park

Dolphin Plaza. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Abbey Hanna State Park.

With activities that include hiking, biking, surfing, and more, Kathryn Abbey Hanna State Park has been a popular place for many Jacksonville residents, since opening in 1972. Located in Atlantic Beach, just before the historic Mayport Village, Hanna Park has become both a favored destination for locals and vacationers, alike. In speaking with Parks Naturalist Specialist, Stephen Klem, we learned more about the history and happenings at Hanna Park.

“Hanna Park traces its origins back to 1967, when a local philanthropist named Winthrop Bancroft donated five acres of land to the state of Florida, with the stipulation that it be used for park purposes only and that it be named after his good friend and colleague Dr. Kathryn Abbey Hanna, who had passed away earlier that year,” Klem says.” 

Klem continues by sharing that the state of Florida transferred the property to the City of Jacksonville in 1969. The municipality purchased additional land between 1969 and 1972, totaling 450 acres, which eventually became Hanna Park, opening in 1972. In 2022, the park will celebrate 50 years of operation. 

The wide array of activities are definitely a prominent reason for the park’s longevity.

“As a recreational park, Hanna Park offers 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, 60 acres of lakes where you can go kayaking or fishing, a splash pad, a 9-hole disc golf course, and a campground, where you can go RV or tent camping. Hanna Park is also a popular bird watching spot with more than 200 different species being observed throughout the year,” Klem explains.

There’s a lot to enjoy at Hanna Park, but when the tides are on point and the ocean waves are good, it’s easy to discover its biggest draw.

“The most popular activity that guests enjoy at the park is surfing,” Klem Shares. “Hanna Park is part of a surf culture that dates back to the 1960’s, when the area was known as ‘Access 5’ by the locals. People travel to the park from all over northeast Florida to go surfing at the ‘Mayport Poles’ in Hanna Park, which is known for the consistent swells it produces.”

If you are not a surfer or are simply more interested in hiking, biking, camping, or kayaking, Klem shared a lot of details about these activities as well, including the on-site kayak launch and rentals available at the park.

The park features a kayak launch within a short walk from the parking lot. Guests can either bring their own kayak or rent one from their onsite vendor, Adventure Kayak. Single kayak rentals are $16 for one hour and two-person kayaks clock in at $26 an hour. 

Even better, its camping sites provide a variety of amenities, including full electric hooks, water and sewage. Summer hours for the park are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter (Check-in is 12 p.m. and check- out is 12 p.m.). Guests must provide their own tent(s) and supplies, which are available for purchase onsite. Tent camping costs $20.43 per night, while RV camping rates are $34.04 per night, with a 10% discount available for retired military and seniors over 65. 

And with over 20 miles of hardcore biking trails to enjoy at the park, Hanna Park serves as a great race site for the biker competitions.

“We host a triathlon at the park at least once a year,” Klem says. “There are also at least a couple runs and bike race competitions scheduled by nonprofit organizations throughout the year.”

One last fact that Klem shared is that Hanna Park offers picnic shelter rentals by the lake and the beach, which are great for large group gatherings of less than 50 people. The picnic shelters are $53.75 to reserve; the perfect destination for anyone who has family in Jacksonville during the holidays.

Needless to say, if you are an outdoorsy go-getter, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a must-see spot.

Note: The park has a $5 daily entry fee.

Hanna Park: 500 Wonderwood Dr., Jacksonville, FL; coj.net/departments/parks,-recreation-and-community-services/recreation-and-community-programming/kathryn-abbey-hanna-park.aspx // @kathryn_abbey_hanna_park

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