It’s the Everglades, but closer. A healthy urban remnant of the great swamp is surrounded by Pembroke Pines, but is large enough that it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is access. This is a wonderfully accessible park for viewing the same birds and wildlife you would see in the wild spaces of the greater Everglades ecosystem to the west.
Interpretive signs are found all along the trail, making this a pleasant place to explore for families and newbies to the Everglades.
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Location: Pembroke Pines
Length: 0.8 mile round-trip
Trailhead: 26.029029, -80.412720
Address: 19800 Sheridan St, Pembroke Pines
Restroom: At the trailhead
Land manager: City of Pembroke Pines
Open 8 AM to 6 PM. No pets, bicycles, or skateboards permitted. Strollers welcome.
A water fountain and picnic table are at the trailhead. There are numerous interpretive signs and benches along the trail.
Canoe rentals are available on Saturdays. Call in advance to reserve.
Follow Sheridan Street for 3.7 miles west from Interstate 75 to the park entrance on the left, or from US 27 drive east for 1.3 miles to the entrance on the right.
Facing the open marsh, the entrance to the trail also serves as access to the rental canoes, providing an panorama before you even start your hike.
Look for pond apples growing near the canoe launch. Pond apple swamps once blanketed this coast, but are now only tiny remnants on natural lands.
The boardwalk starts to the right, tunneling through tropical vegetation. Expect to see red maples sporting fall colors during the winter months.
Making a sharp left, the boardwalk is a long straightaway crowded by tropical hammock. Wild coffee and native lantana grow in the understory.
When the views open up, the boardwalk serves as a bridge over the waterway that paddlers follow.
Periphyton, the goopy biomass of the Everglades, floats on the water below.
Making a bend, the boardwalk offers extensive viewing across the marshes in all directions.
It’s here we saw what we thought were purple gallinules but were later informed were Asian marsh hens – four pairs of them rooting through the reeds – as well as a pair of coots.
The next straightaway leads to a covered shelter overlooking a small pocket of swamp.
Before you reach the shelter, one more boardwalk reaches out to the south, spanning the heart of the marsh.
Follow it to the end to the floating dock for the long views across the preserve.
Tricolor heron and great egret are common residents of this marsh, but you’ll see many more birds, too.
Scan the shallows for turtles, especially large softshell turtles.
The end of the boardwalk is at 0.4 mile. On the return trip take the side trail to the shelter to look over the swamp on its over side.
Linger long as you walk back along the boardwalk. This is an excellent destination for both birding and wildlife watching.
See our photos of Chapel Trail Park Nature Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Climb into the forest canopy to browse among the bromeliads amid the ancient live oaks at Tree Tops Park
At the highest natural elevation in Broward County, this pine-topped ridge speaks to the history of those who lived here in the past, in a village that Mikasuki medicine chief Abiaka called home
Walk a gentle accessible half-mile loop while learning about the oldest documented settlement in the eastern Everglades at Snake Warrior’s Island in Miramar