Deep in the southeastern part of Martin County is the abandoned camp that once belonged to Trapper Nelson, the so-called 'Wildman of the Loxahatchee'. It’s easy to visit this remote area near Hobe Sound via a canoe outing at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
Now that sounds easier than it actually is! Steering a canoe is tricky at first. I found myself zigzagging up the Loxahatchee River before I learned to stop over-correcting!
If you'd rather view the alligators and abundant wildlife from afar, there is a two-hour tour on one of the two 25-passenger pontoon boats. These open-air, flat-bottom boats take visitors to Trapper Nelson's homesite about three miles up the river.
Once on-site, a ranger takes you for a guided tour. On my visit, we saw Trapper Nelson's hand-built log cabins, a Seminole Indian "Chickee" shelter and remnants of his wildlife zoo.
During his heyday in the late 1940s, the Wildman of the Loxahatchee was a strapping 6' 4" in height, wrestled alligators and attracted celebrities like Gary Cooper and society women too. You can see historical photos of Trapper Nelson posing on this website. (Think cheesecake shots, but for the girls!)
The campsite is accessible only on the water via Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Although just 90 minutes from Miami, you definitely feel like you've left big city life at this 11,900-acre refuge. The Loxahatchee River, one of only two federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida, is well worth a trip.