In 1989, Broward County residents had the foresight to save patches of remaining natural habitats under the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Bond Program.
This 20-acre hammock adjoining Riverglades Elementary, along with its trails and boardwalk, is one of the gems of that program.
Acquired and managed in conjunction with the city of Parkland, it is named for the matriarch of the family who agreed to enable this to become public land.
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Length: 0.5 mile loop
Trailhead: 26.320982, -80.222619
Address: 7300 Parkside Dr, Parkland
Land manager: City of Parkland
Open sunrise to sunset. Pets and bicycles are not permitted.
Seating and a pavilion are along the trail, making it ideal for slow walkers.
From US 441, 1.7 miles north of the Sawgrass Expressway, turn west on Loxahatchee Rd. Drive 1.2 miles to Parkside Dr. Turn south.
The preserve does not have a parking area other than a single handicapped spot in front of the trailhead. If you don’t have a placard, pass that and park along the street in front of the elementary school.
After parking along Parkside Drive by Riverglades Elementary, walk south down the sidewalk to the preserve’s pedestrian entrance and turn left.
Pass by interpretive information at the beginning of the paved trail. Keep right at the junction for a counterclockwise hike.
The trail leads you through a deeply shaded tropical hammock, dense and tangled, before joining a broad boardwalk.
Strap ferns thrive in this humid environment, sprouting under strangler figs. Ferns are in fact a highlight of this marshy hammock.
We spotted not just dozens of strap ferns but swarms of marsh ferns, giant sword ferns, royal ferns, and giant leather ferns.
After a quarter mile, pass a bench set into the boardwalk amid a wonderland of ferns and palms.
Seeing a fantail palm in the dense tropical hammock convinced us that some of the tropical plants in this hammock are not native.
Pass by a large deck area used for school groups, with a strangler fig holding court nearby.
Cypress basin swamp and pine flatwoods are the primary habitats of the preserve, and you come up to a sign talking about them both.
The boardwalk ascends towards the pine flatwoods, with tall slash pines overhead and grapevines draped throughout the understory.
As the boardwalk descends again, there is a side path to the right leading to an access point for school groups from neighboring Riverglades Elementary.
Continue straight ahead through the understory of the tropical hammock, which is dense with cocoplum.
Completing the loop after a half mile, turn right to exit back up the sidewalk to the nearest place to park.
See our photos of Doris Davis Foreman Wilderness
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A 44 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
Protecting 66 acres of natural habitats in Coral Springs, Tall Cypress Natural Area offers a wonderland of ferns along its loop trail through a cypress slough
In just 13 acres, Helene Klein Pineland Preserve packs in a nice walk through a variety of habitats within an urban forest along busy Hillsboro Blvd