Around low tide, a run on the beach is hard to beat. The scenery's great, and in most locations the beach sand is firm and reasonably flat. (It can be a different story around high tide.) Amelia Island boasts about 13 miles of beach along the Atlantic Ocean.
There's ample parking at "Main Beach," the easternmost end of Atlantic Avenue.
Other places where you can park and run include the intersection of Sadler Road and South Fletcher Ave., about two miles south of Main Beach; and the Peters Point Beach Front Park, about 2.5 miles south of Sadler on South Fletcher Ave.
Running south from there, you'll see the Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Summer Beach development, historic American Beach and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation -- if you look west. Look east and you'll see plenty of ocean, ships and seabirds, and maybe, especially in the early morning, dolphins at play.
At the southern tip of the island, there's a park with ample parking.
What if it IS high tide -- or you're just not into running on sand? You can still enjoy an oceanside run. Between Main Beach and the Seaside Park at Sadler Road, there's almost two miles of oceanside road and sidewalk along South Fletcher Avenue. Just head south from Main Beach, or north from Sadler, on South Fletcher Ave.
For a shaded run that snakes its way past some of the island's higher-end properties, plus the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the Amelia Island Parkway is for you. The parkway sidewalk begins at the entrance to Peters Point Park on South Fletcher Avenue and goes for approximately 2.5 miles to A1A, where you can turn around and retrace your steps. There is free parking at Peters Point. It's a good alternative to beach running on very windy days or at high tide.
The Amelia Island Trail is a new (May, 2013) 6.2 mile, paved, off-road, multi-use trail that links Peters Point Park (near the Ritz Carlton Hotel) with Amelia Island State Park (the south end of the island). The mostly shaded trail winds in and out of the tree canopy alongside scenic highway A1A. Parking and restrooms are available at both trailheads; some shopping, restaurants and convenience stores are along the route. You can do a long run out-and-back on the entire trail, or turn east on Scott Road or Julia Street and do a shortened loop back to Peters Point Park via Summer Beach sidewalk or on the beach itself. Click here for more photos and details.
Civil War buffs love it for its history, but runners love Fort Clinch State Park for its miles of shaded roads and trails -- the coolest place in town for a run during the summer. Just remember to wear some mosquito repellant in the summer months! The park entrance is on Atlantic Avenue, just west of Main Beach.
You can also turn a Fort Clinch run into a combo Fort/Beach 10K. Start at the Fort Clinch guard house and run to the park's RV parking lot/beach entrance. Head south for about 3 miles on a flat beach to the Main Beach parking lot. Go straight through the parking lot to Atlantic Avenue, and stay straight for about a quarter mile back to the Fort Clinch entrance. The Fort/Beach run is about six miles.
Where to run on Amelia Island
Before you get going, check the weather -- especially between, say, May and September. Thunderstorms can come up quickly during the summer, and you don't want to be caught in one, especially on the beach. A good rule of thumb: If you can hear thunder, it's no time for a run.
And now, for some of the routes the "locals" find enjoyable...
Trail runners also enjoy the Egans Creek Greenway, which includes the 2-mile Blue Heron Loop. Probably the easiest way to access the greenway is to park behind the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center, which is just a few blocks west of Main Beach on Atlantic Avenue. Trail maps are available at the Rec Center Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Here's a picturesque run that will take you from the sea to the heart of Fernandina Beach's historic downtown area. Head west from Main Beach along Atlantic Avenue, one of the community's main residential thoroughfares. After about 1.5 miles, you'll come to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at the intersection of Eighth Street, marking the beginning of the downtown district. At this point, Atlantic Ave. becomes known as "Centre Street." Keep going west for the next half-mile to see quaint local shops and the old Nassau County Courthouse. (Go slow -- you'll be sharing the sidewalk with strolling pedestrians.) At the end of the street are the city docks on the Amelia River. Turn around and head back from the river to the sea, and you've gone "coast-to-coast" in the space of four miles.
Here's how to roughly double the length of that 4-mile run, with sidewalks all the way. As you're heading east on your return trip through downtown, turn right on Eighth Street after crossing with the light. It's a more commercialized (and heavily trafficked) stretch that will take you 2.2 miles to Sadler Road. You'll know you're approaching Sadler when you pass a Burger King and Wendy's! Turn left at the next stoplight, which is Sadler, and you'll be heading east again, toward the ocean. After 1.2 miles, you'll reach South Fletcher Avenue, paralleling the ocean. Turn left, and for two miles you're running beside the Atlantic. You'll end up back at Main Beach.
Run with us!
You're welcome (and encouraged!) to join our club members on one of our weekly group runs. They are generally held, weather permitting, on Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach High School track, 435 Citrona Drive. The days, starting times and locations can vary, but you can check the main page on our website to confirm when and where. Come run with us!
Or, race with us!
Fernandina Beach is fortunate to have several competitive racing events open to the public each year. Three of them are sponsored by the Amelia Island Runners -- the Pirates on the Run 5K/10K in February, Turtle Trot beach 5K on Labor Day weekend, and the Reindeer Run 5K and half-marathon in December. Other events include the Shrimp Festival 5K, held each year during Fernandina's festive Shrimp Festival weekend, and races at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Thanksgiving Day, and on our around July 4 and Memorial Day. Chances are we have information on the next upcoming race posted on our race calendar. If not, just send us an e-mail.
A group also runs in the mornings. Runners leave the McArthur Family YMCA on Citrona Drive at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These are not AIR club runs, but the Y group is always happy to have new people participate, just as we are.
Need more information? Just click here to e-mail us. We hope you enjoy your visit and come back to run with us again!