In what is now Wilton Manors near Fort Lauderdale, settler William C. Collier planted an orange grove in the 1890s.
He traded with the Seminole, who visited by boat. They named the the waterway that wove through the wilderness “Colohatchee” in his honor.
More than a century later, there is no trace of the homestead, with this pocket park surrounded by suburbia.
But this interpretive boardwalk lets you enjoy a short walk with excellent birding along the river that Mr. Collier once relied on for a livelihood and transportation.
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Location: Wilton Manors
Length: 0.3 mile round-trip
Trailhead: 26.153850, -80.129350
Address: 1975 NE 15th Ave, Wilton Manors
Land manager: City of Wilton Manors
Open 8 AM to dusk, Thu-Mon. Closed Tue-Wed.
Leashed dogs welcome. A dog park permit is required to use the dog park, check their website for details.
From Interstate 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, and 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.
These line the South Fork of the Middle River, which the park edges. Despite the 1890s orange grove, this is no longer a place for farming.
Salt water intrusion up the river now has mangroves swarming the river’s banks, where in Collier’s time, 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. They seem to sense you coming, and move swiftly.
There are two observation points along the walkway, one at the outflow of a mangrove pond and one on the river itself.
Both are nice places to sit and watch for herons, egrets, and the black-crowned night herons that we’ve seen in this area on several occasions.
The boardwalk leads to the developed corner of the park, which includes a dog park, asphalt walking path, and pincic pavilion in an open grassy area.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
In a tropical forest across the street from Fort Lauderdale Beach, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is the former estate of Chicago attorney Hugh Taylor Birch, stretching to the Intracoastal Waterway
Named for the water lilies that once flourished in the freshwater marsh in front of this grand home, the 35 acres of tropical forest on which the Bonnet House was built was a gift from industrialist Hugh Taylor Birch to his daughter Helen and son-in-law Fredric Clay Bartlett, a noted artist.
A designated urban wilderness area just north of Fort Lauderdale, Easterlin Park immerses you in a dense tropical forest on its 0.9-mile loop trail
Secret Woods Nature Center
Designated the first “urban wilderness area” in Florida in 1978, Secret Woods protects a 56-acre floodplain of cypress strand and mangroves with uplands of tropical hammock