For many, the ultimate is to combine a great hike with a great beach experience. If that’s you – try the North Beach at the GTM Research Reserve. It’s easy to get to and park – the overlook gives you a stunning vista of stretches of this special beach.

Hiking North Beach Overlook Experience

North Beach is located in the GTM Research Reserve and offers long stretches of pristine beaches. Most days you will find easy parking in the GTM North Lot. After you cross A1A, use the boardwalk to access the beach.

About halfway down the boardwalk, turn to your right to take in the overlook. The overlook provides a great vista both to the north and south, taking in the beauty of this special area of Ponte Vedra Beach.

An experience that many locals share with their visitors is to showcase the view that was enjoyed by Ponce de Leon in 1513. A once in a lifetime experience is being on the beach at sunrise. Locals use the words “spectacular” and “magical.”

This stretch of GTM beaches provides 4 miles of open, undeveloped beachfront, so you get a great natural hiking experience, without homes interrupting your vistas. For those wanting a longer hike, you can go a full 5.5 miles up to Micklers Landing and back for an 11-mile overall hike.

Also make sure to catch the 15-foot Ponce de Leon statue, interpretive signage and historical marker as part of your hike. The statue recognizes the only surviving navigational reading of Ponce de León’s “Journey of Discovery,” taken the day prior to his landing on April 3, 1513, when he claimed La Florida for Spain.

As you are hiking, remember these shores are very sensitive ecosystems that can easily be damaged. You can be a “Sustainable PVB Guest” by keeping these tips in mind.

  • Stay on designated paths to prevent trampling on sensitive plants and animals – these beach environments are very sensitive.  
  • Keep the “natural” in “natural areas” by packing in what you pack out.
  • Enjoy the beach at slower periods of the day and season to limit beach crowding.
  • Stop by the GTM Environmental Education Center to better understand these unique ecosystems and support this important institution.
  • Donate and become a member of the GTM Research Reserve. Funds go directly to protecting, researching and teaching others about the Reserve.
  • Participate in a GTM Research Reserve Beach Cleanup on the fourth Saturday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at the GTM Visitor Center.


Experience: North Beach Overlook Hike

Address: 1255 A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway

Entrance Fee: Parking fee of $3

Hours: Dawn until Dusk

Website: https://gtmnerr.org/

Facilities Available: The North Beach GTM Parking Lot provides parking and then easy beach access via their boardwalks.  There are informational GTM kiosks and trash receptacles at the lot.

Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate – all hikes along open stretches of beaches

Other Information:

Tips From The Experts

  • The GTM parking lots can fill on weekend afternoons and on holidays – going earlier in the day will better ensure easy access.
  • Combining this great beach hike with a sunrise or sunset makes the experience really special.
  • Make sure to take time to read the informational placards at the vista overlook – they will add a lot to your understanding of the area.
  • Stop by the Ponte Vedra Visitor Center at 200 Solana Road in Ponte Vedra Beach to purchase a “30 degree, 8 minute” latitude sticker marking the spot in Florida that Ponce de Leon came ashore.