Located halfway between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton provides a surprising number of natural areas to explore, including quite a few that are managed by the city of Boca Raton itself. The community stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the former Everglades, offering a variety of habitats in these urban preserves.
Trails and Parks in Boca Raton
- Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge - At the edge of Boynton Beach, where historic farmlands have given way to subdivisions, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a 145,000 acre buffer between suburbia and the Everglades
- Blazing Star Nature Preserve - Traverse a scrub forest amid remnants of the ancient dunes of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge at Blazing Star Preserve, a Boca Raton natural land with a 1-mile loop trail
- Butterfly World - Butterflies are the main attraction at this complex of natural wonders inside Tradewinds Park, but the flowers also put on a show at Butterfly World, with a maze of passionflower vines said to be the world's largest collection of its kind.
- Crystal Lake Natural Area - Winding through a diminutive forest of sand live oak, tallow-wood, gopher apple, and sand pines, the 0.4-mile hike through Crystal Lake Natural Area celebrates scrub
- Daggerwing Nature Center - Behind Daggerwing Nature Center in busy South County Regional Park, an accessible boardwalk trail leads you into a remnant of tropical habitat with ancient trees.
- Doris Davis Foreman Wilderness - A pretty patch of tropical hammock hides amid the bustle of suburbia in Parkland in Broward County on the 0.5 mile loop through Doris Davis Foreman Wilderness Preserve.
- Fern Forest Nature Center - A bounty of ferns await at Fern Forest Nature Center, an urban wilderness area established in 1979, spanning 247 acres that surround the original floodplain of Cypress Creek
- Green Cay Wetlands - At Green Cay Wetlands, boardwalks meander through 100 acres of re-created wetlands that bring a touch of the Everglades back to its original home in Boynton Beach.
- Helene Klein Pineland Preserve - In just 13 acres, Helene Klein Pineland Preserve packs in a nice walk through a variety of habitats within that small space near West Boca Raton and Coconut Creek
- Hillsboro Pineland Natural Area - A 56-acre remnant of forest that once spanned between the Atlantic Coastal Ridge and the Everglades, Hillsboro Pineland Natural Area offers gentle nature trails less than a mile long.
- Loxahatchee NWR Cypress Trail - Following the boardwalk behind the Visitor Center at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, you'll enter a jungle-like wonderland along the Cypress Trail into a habitat lush with ferns and bromeliads
- Loxahatchee NWR Marsh Trail - At Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, the Marsh Trail provides a marked trail to follow on the extensive dike system. It is one of the region's best birding sites, where you'll see dozens of species.
- Pondhawk Natural Area - Pondhawk Natural Area protects 79 acres of scrub habitats and wetlands, including a relict pond apple slough with some of the tallest pond apple trees in Florida.
- Serenoa Glade Preserve - Atop one of the higher elevations in Boca Raton, Serenoa Glade Preserve is a rare undeveloped piece of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge with both scrub and pine flatwoods habitats.
- Sugar Sand Park - In Boca Raton, the trails at Sugar Sand Park radiate from a nature center and playground surrounded by the remains of a coastal scrub and pine flatwoods in this urbanized area.
- Tall Cypress Natural Area - Botanical diversity abounds in the 66-acre Tall Cypress Natural Area. Along the boardwalks, you'll wander through a cypress slough that is a wonderland of ferns.
- Wakodatahatchee Wetlands - Wading birds everywhere: that's the delight of a walk along the boardwalks of Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The first wetlands park in the region, it continues to draw a regular crowd for morning stolls, photography, and serious birdwatching.
- Yamato Scrub Natural Area - 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.
- Tegus establish a foothold in Florida (7/31/2014) - It's big. It's colorful. And it's the newest non-native species to establish breeding populations in Florida. Meet the black and white tegu.