Horton Pond – Alligator Mecca
Across Beachview from the entrance to the Villas lies the access road to Horton Pond. A short walk takes you to the wheelchair-accessible viewing stand, from which you’ll almost certainly see turtles. Multiple varieties of turtles swim throughout the pond, including the larger Florida Softshell Turtles, the largest softshell turtles in North America. And you can frequently see turtles sunning themselves on the man-made platform in the middle of the pond. If you’re lucky, you might also see an alligator or two lying on the platform or swimming slowly through the pond. Although the reptiles and fish are the pond’s main attractions, you might see such birds as Roseate Spoonbills, Pied-Billed Grebes, Belted Kingfishers, or herons. While you might feel an urge to throw food to the animals, that’s not a good idea.
To find Horton Pond, drive, bike, or walk to the Villas by the Sea, off Beachview on the northeastern side of the island. Find the entrance that goes to Driftwood Bistro. Instead of turning east into the Villas, head west and go left at the fork, and you’ll reach the pond very quickly. Park your car on the side of the dirt road or settle your bike in the bicycle rack.
The Tupelo Trail is a 0.7 mile loop you can access from the pond. Since you’ll be out in nature, you might want to use some insect repellent. When we walked the trail in early November, insect bites and tickers were a problem. With proper precautions, however, the trail provides a peaceful stroll through Jekyll’s natural greenery. Plaques along the palmetto-lined trail identify some of the trees and mark special points of interest. Spanish Moss hangs from the limbs of many of the trees.
Many Happy Returns
If you visit Horton Pond and don’t see any alligators or other animals you’re looking for, don’t despair. Come back another time. You’re bound to see an alligator, in particular, at some point.