Adjacent to Naval Station Mayport at the end of Wonderwood Expressway is one of Jacksonville’s largest and most popular public parks. Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, or simply Hanna Park as it’s known to locals, offers 1.5 miles of sandy beach, camping, a 60-acre lake for fishing and small watercrafts, and over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails.
After our trip the the Talbot Islands, Adam and I decided to invest in a set of mountain bikes so that we could really explore Jacksonville outdoors. Sunday we took our bikes on their maiden voyage and went exploring the trails at Hanna Park.
We had a really great time exploring the trails. There were a few times where I got frustrated and threatened to quit but each time I got back on the saddle and kept going. The moderate trails were challenging for a rookie like myself (Adam had very little problem) but the easy trails were straight routes and offered no challenge. Overall the park is well maintained and a fun place to enjoy some time outdoors.
History of Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Back in the 1880s, the JM&P Railroad operated on what is now Wonderwood Expressway. Residents and tourists traveled the railroad to Burnside Beach. African Americans who were working on the East Coast Railway in the 1900s established Manhattan Beach, the state’s first African American beach. Both Burnside and Manhattan beaches were popular offering amenities like cottages, picnic pavilions, and an amusement park. The beaches thrived until around 1940 when American Beach in Amelia Island became a more popular day-trip destination.
Winthrop Bancroft donated five acres of land in 1967 which was named after Dr. Kathryn Abbey Hanna, an educator and author who settled in Florida and served on the board of Parks and Historical Places. Dr. Hanna was also a Florida historian who rallied for the protection of nature in Florida’s public parks. Through historical preservation, she was able to protect land from further development.
In 1968 during the Jacksonville Consolidation, the park became part of Jacksonville. The park was expanded with surrounding properties in the 1970s during the administration of Mayor Hans Tanzler. In 1987, Michael Long constructed the first general purpose trail as his Eagle Scout service project.
Today the park encompasses 450 acres including 2.5 miles of shoreline with an extensive dune system and an abundance of maritime hammocks.