A 217-acre natural area atop the Atlantic Coastal Ridge in Boca Raton, Yamato Scrub protects the largest chunk of native scrub habitat found this far south in Florida. Walking the northernmost trails in this preserve, you forget you’re in a very industrial part of Boca Raton, especially when you keep spotting wildlife. As you follow the trail system south, the outside world intrudes. With five district habitats to explore and a variety of cross-trails to create longer and shorter loops, you can choose the difficulty and distance of your hike.
Location: Boca Raton
Length: 2.7 miles described; varies by route
Fees / Permits: free
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: portable toilet at trailhead
Open sunrise to sunset daily. A portion of the trail system is wheelchair accessible.
Yamato Scrub Natural Area website
From I-95 exit 50 southbound, head south on Congress Avenue for 1.1 miles to Clint Moore Rd. Turn left and drive a half mile, passing the entrance to Yamato Scrub to make a U-turn at a turnout in front of the Boca Raton Shrine Club. The trailhead parking area is just past it on the right, at 601 Clint Moore Rd, Boca Raton. Northbound on I-95, use the Yamato Road exit to drive 0.5 mile west to Yamato Rd, 1 mile north on Congress Avenue to Clint Moore Rd.
Leaving the trailhead, follow the sidewalk – the accessible portion of the trail – as it leads you north through oak scrub to a bridge over a canal that bisects the property. North of the bridge, watch for a turnoff to the left onto a natural footpath marked with yellow circles on posts. This northerly loop showcases a beautiful swath of pine flatwoods and scrub atop the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, and is the prettiest part of the preserve.
Rejoining the paved path, turn left to follow it into an open area with wetlands, a nice place for birdwatching. The paved path follows a causeway between the wetlands and enters another patch of oak scrub, terminating in a loop. Another natural surface trail, also marked with yellow circles on posts, departs from this point, heading south into open scrub with only small islands of pines casting shade.
On this southern portion of the trail system, you cross the canal again on a bridge – with an opportunity to follow the canal west on a park road to make a return loop – before heading deeper into the open, shadeless scrub. The trail twists and winds through the dense understory, emerging at a fence with a pass-thru to enter a tunnel under Clint Moore Road. South of the tunnel is yet another yellow-blazed loop through open scrub, which we did not explore on this visit. An osprey nest sits in a tall snag.
Returning back through the tunnel and the pass-thru to the north side of Clint Moore Road, turn left and follow the beaten path within sight of the fenceline of the preserve. Walking through more open scrub, you come to a gate in front of the Shrine Club. Slip between the fence and gate to continue up the sidewalk to the parking area, completing a 2.7 mile loop. Many other routes are possible; we cut our hike short this day due to the summer heat in the shadeless portion of the preserve.