Palm Coast People: An Opportunity to Learn About the City’s Trail System

His job is to get residents of Palm Coast out and about enjoying the city’s numerous parks and trails through hosting community gatherings.
“My goal is to get people outdoors on our trails and in our parks appreciating the nature all around us here in Palm Coast,” said Jared Dawson, recreation supervisor of special events for the City of Palm Coast Parks and Recreation Department.
The Tour de Palm Coast scheduled for Saturday, July 23, 2022, leaving from the Palm Coast Community Center at 8 AM is one of those opportunities Dawson leads.
“I know it (the title) sounds like it is a race,” Dawson said. “But it is not. Rather it is a leisurely guided bike tour that is friendly to all ages and abilities.”
Noting that families with small children and seniors who don’t necessarily pedal at a fast pace often attend the “tour,” Dawson said the group of cyclists often stop to look at and learn about various fauna along the chosen route.
This year’s route is five miles long, Dawson said. He expects the loop route to be completed by 10 AM with the tour returning to the community center at that time.
Of course, avid and experienced cyclists are welcome too.
“They just often have to slow down for the tour,” he said.
The “tour” route through Linear Park, along the St. Joe Walkway and through Waterfront Park is pretty much flat, Dawson said. He personally enjoys the tree canopy and its shade over the trail through the St. Joe Walkway: It is one of his favorite places to go in Palm Coast.
“You can see some of the oak trees along that trail that have been here since before Palm Coast was Palm Coast,” he said. “It really is beautiful.”
Another feature of the “tour” is the potential to spot wildlife in the intercoastal waterway.
“We often see birds fishing in the intercoastal as well as dolphins and once we saw a manatee,” Dawson said. “The coolest thing we saw once was a dolphin body slamming a fish. It was super loud.”
As a lifelong resident of Palm Coast – he only left for a stint in the military – Dawson is grateful that most of the city’s trail system run through land tracts protected from development.
“It has a real appeal for Palm Coast residents,” he said, noting the city has more than 120 miles of maintained trails for biking and hiking. “We have these trail systems that will never go away.”
Of course, the bike tour isn’t the only activity Dawson coordinates.
Food trucks on Tuesdays and movies in the park the second Friday of each month are just a couple of the other events he coordinates. Both events are held at Central Park in Town Center.
For those seeking a more strenuous activity, Dawson recommends something he participates in regularly with his friends and co-workers: Ruk marching.
This incorporates a 30-pound backpack with walking at about five miles per hour. It isn’t for the faint of heart or stamina. It’s an activity he picked up on while in the military.
It also isn’t an official activity with the city, but Dawson welcomes others to join him and his crew.
“It’s good exercise,” he said. “We talk, we joke around, we clear our heads.”
You can connect with Dawson by calling Parks and Recreation at (386) 986-2323.
Note: Participation in the Tour de Palm Coast is free. All riders must wear a helmet. Bring water for the ride. Refreshments served afterward at the community center. Pre-registration is required. Do so online at
— Amy Armstrong