This park is off the beaten path. It’s behind a private community in St. Augustine on the intracoastal side. It’s a wonderful hidden gem.
After driving down the short paved section past the private community ( not turning into the actual community), the road turns to dirt. You will see the small sign driving into the park for Helen Mellon Schmidt. The park is named after Helen, who was a Naval decoder in WWII.
There is a porta john at the main entrance into the park. It is always clean. There’s plenty of parking here and several little coves to go into. Just watch your vehicle for rising tide of the Matanzas Inlet. If your park in the middle of the parking area, you’re safe from the tides.
On the left side is the big, beautiful waters of the Matanzas. On the right, is a smaller outcove of the Inlet. It’s not as deep and is more narrow. The water is warm and inviting but you still need to be mindful of the tides, especially if you leave a chair or cooler and go wading off.
Waterfowl abound here, and are beautiful to watch, especially the bright pink spoonbills. There’s not much in way if shelling here because the hermit crabs have taken over every shell you pick up, but they’re fun little critters to watch. The fishing isn’t bad, so bring a pole if that interests you.
If you visit on weekday, it usually never crowded. It’s the perfect place to put you feet in water and bring a good book or a picnic. There is a trail you can wonder down, but wear shoes on the path because there are mounds of oyster shells the further down the island you go.
This place is a definite on our list of “must see”, especially if you want peace and quiet.
This little park is open from dawn to dusk. If you’re into island hopping, bring you canoe or kayak and paddle across to Rattlesnake Island. Just be sure to watch bigger boats when it’s high tide. This place is a great little getaway for the day.