At Mizell-Johnson State Park (formerly John U. Lloyd Beach State Park), the Barrier Island Nature Trail gets you away from the busy beach and into a patch of wilds along this slender spit of land on a barrier island just south of Fort Lauderdale. An easy half-mile interpretive nature trail, it’s a nice introduction for the kids to beach plants versus invasive species and to barrier island habitats, a break from being out in the sun all day.
Location: Dania Beach
Length: 0.5 mile loop
Lat-Long: 26.068617, -80.112433
Fees: state park entrance
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug Factor: moderate
During turtle nesting and hatching season, volunteers offer nighttime walks on the beach; call the park for details. The beach was once part of the route of the Barefoot Mailman, who walked from Lake Worth to Miami in the 1880s to deliver the mail, and makes a nice beach walk itself.
From I-95 exit 21 drive east on Sheridan St to North A1A; turn left and continue 1.5 miles to the park entrance.
The Barrier Island Trail is a natural footpath through a coastal hammock altered by invasive species such as Australian pines, Brazilian pepper, and melaleuca. In the spots where the original hammock of strangler fig, wild coffee, myrsine, and sea grapes still shades the trail, the vegetation crowds in close.
At 0.1 mile there is a shortcut across the loop to provide a shorter walk. Stay on the outer loop for the full walk or do a figure-8: turn right and duck under the sea grapes to reach a mangrove-lined canal; turn left to walk north along the marsh.
The trail turns back to the south to complete the loop. Along the marsh, you can hear the sound of the surf breaking behind the mangroves.