Opened in 1996, Anne Kolb Nature Center is named for the first woman elected to the Broward County Commission. Broward County was established in 1915. She took office in 1974.
During her term and afterwards, she fought for a county land use plan, conservation of open space, and creating the Urban Wilderness Park system that Broward has today, including this mangrove forest that was slated for development.
A complex with boardwalks, trails, and a tall accessible observation tower, it’s an outpost in one of the largest urban mangrove forests remaining in Florida.
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Length: 4.9 miles in three round-trips
Trailhead: 26.03870, -80.120017
Address: 751 E. Sheridan St, Hollywood
Restroom: at the nature center
Land manager: Broward County
The nature center is open 9 AM to 5 PM. Pets are not allowed. Skating and bicycles are not permitted on the boardwalks surrounding the nature center.
Bring mosquito repellent and sun protection. You’ll need both for the trails, which are mostly in the open between the mangroves.
From Interstate 95 exit 21, drive east on Sheridan Street for 2.6 miles to the park entrance on the left, just before the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.
Local residents can reach the nature center by bus Route #12 of Broward County Transit.
About the Nature Center
Inside the main building, the centerpiece of the Nature Center is a 3,500 gallon saltwater aquarium.
Extensive exhibits highlight the importance of the mangrove forest and its many inhabitants, from the birds that roost in red mangroves to the crustaceans in the mud below.
A portion of the exhibit floor is dedicated to showing off nature-themed work from local artists.
With both volunteer and staff assistance, the Nature Center hosts field trips for local school groups. Visitors can also sign up to take a narrated tour on a pontoon boat out into West Lake.
The Nature Center complex also includes access to several trails, a five-level observation tower, a fishing pier, and amphitheater where outdoor events are held.
Even if you don’t walk the trails, take the time to go up in the tower for the incredible views. It has both a staircase and an elevator to lift you 68 feet above sea level.
About the Trails
While paddlers must put in at the West Lake Park entrance about a half mile west on the north side of Sheridan Blvd, you can pick up a guide to the paddling trails here at the nature center.
Only kayaks, canoes, and electric boats are allowed in the wilderness area.
Interpretive booklets are available for the Lake Observation Trail and the Mudflat Trail are also available for a small fee from the nature center desk.
Lake Observation Trail
A round-trip from the parking area out to the end of the Lake Observation Trail and back is 0.7 mile.
It passes by the observation tower before narrowing to a broad boardwalk through the mangrove forest.
Providing the best of the panoramas of open water, it ends at a covered observation platform with great views.
The Mudflat Trail starts at the south end of complex behind the Nature Center buildings. Follow the sidewalk around to the boardwalk where this trail starts.
It leads to an island in the mangroves, punctuated by giant land crab holes, and to a straightaway of a paved trail that ends at a covered observation deck on West Lake. A round trip on the Mudflat Trail is 0.7 mile.
Fishing Pier Trail
A quarter mile round-trip paved trail leads from the parking area to two fishing piers along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Continue past the turnoff to the piers to go under Sheridan Blvd to access the South Trail, a network of loops and spurs with overlooks on both West Lake and the Intracoastal.
The shellrock path through the mangroves can be hiked or bicycled. A trip out to the end and back runs more than 3 miles.
See our photos from West Lake Park
Learn more about West Lake Park
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