In what is now Wilton Manors near Fort Lauderdale, settler William C. Collier planted an orange grove in the 1890s and traded with the Seminole, who named the waterway that wove through the wilderness “Colohatchee” in his honor. A hundred years later, there isn’t much of a trace of that homestead, with Colohatchee Natural Park surrounded by suburbia. But the little interpretive boardwalk in the park lets you enjoy a short walk with excellent birding along the river that Mr. Collier once relied on for a livelihood and transportation.
Location: Wilton Manors
Length: 0.3 mile
Lat-Long: 26.153850, -80.129350
Bug Factor: moderate
From I-95, take the Sunrise Blvd exit for Fort Lauderdale. Follow Sunrise east to NE 15th Avenue, and turn left. Continue north into Wilton Manors on NE 15th Ave for 1.1 miles. After the traffic circle, you cross the South Fork of the Middle River. The park is on the left side of the road; a boat ramp is on the right.
Starting at the parking lot, the interpretive boardwalk winds its way through a dark forest of young red and black mangroves along the South Fork of the Middle River to access the park’s open recreational area. Despite the 1890s orange grove, this is no longer a place for farming. Salt water intrusion up the river now brings mangroves to this inland area, where it is likely a hammock of cypresses and pond apples once thrived. Watch for mangrove crabs scuttling along the boardwalk and on the mangrove trunks; great birding in the open understory. There is a nice little observation deck along the river, offering birding opportunities.