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Anyone adventurous enough to take the Trapper Nelson Challenge with JUPITER OUTDOOR CENTER guides is following – make that paddling – in the path of one of Jupiter’s most famous and mysterious residents.

Your six-hour voyage on the Loxahatchee River at Riverbend Park to Jonathan Dickinson State Park with JOC guides relives the weekly trip for supplies taken by the Legend of the Loxahatchee in the early 1930s. You’ll nose through ribbon-like channels, some just six feet wide. Snook, deer, great blue herons and ‘gators are regular visitors.

You’ll pass orchids, cypress knees and Spanish Moss as you paddle to the swamp-surrounded homestead Trapper set up when he was just 23. Skinning ‘gators, selling furs, trapping animals, running a zoo and growing citrus kept the blue-eyed New Jersey native busy for 35 years.


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To sign up for a Trapper Nelson Tour or get more information, click here. 

So did entertaining Hollywood celebrities and the local gentry from Jupiter Island and Palm Beach.


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(Photo: Jonathan Dickinson State Park)

They marveled at Trapper’s Tarzan-like physique. They brought their friends to gawk at how Trapper hunted wildlife. They went home and told their friends how Trapper cooked his bounty on an outdoor fire to survive.

“I can still see Trapper at the boathouse where they sold bait. After all that rowing, he’d polish off a box of Hershey bars and wash it all down with a quart of milk,” remembers Jupiter pioneer Roy Rood.

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The dream lived by Trapper – his real name was Vince Natuliewicz — ended in July, 1968.

A friend found the body of the Legend of Loxahatchee outdoors in a picnic pavilion. There was a shotgun wound in his left chest. Trapper was 59.

What happened, and who did it, remains a Jupiter mystery.

The JOC shuttle bus will return you and other adventurers back to Riverbend Park.

  • Those taking any of the Trapper Nelson challenges should be in good to above physical condition.
  • Paddlers should have previous kayaking/canoeing experience.
  • Trips will not be taken when there is an east or southeast wind stronger than 15 miles per hour.
  • The trips will be timed so that the last one-third is with an outgoing tide.
  • There is no public land access to Trapper Nelson property.

Want to learn more about Trapper Nelson? Read James D. Snyder’s book, Life and Death on The Loxahatchee: The Story of Trapper Nelson. 

Check out more photos of Trapper by clicking here.

The book is available on Amazon and at local bookstores.

The story of trapper nelson