One of the more pleasant and unheralded spots for birding in the Pensacola area is hidden in the middle of a college campus—at the University of West Florida. The Edward Ball Nature Trail offers students an escape for quiet contemplation beneath the shade of old cypresses. Visitors are also welcome to walk the one-mile loop, most of which is a boardwalk over Thompson’s Creek, a tributary of the Escambia River, and traverses a series of fern-lined ponds as well as the creek. In spring, mountain laurel puts on a show with its colorful blooms along the crystalline waterway.
Length: 1 mile
Lat-Long: 30.550850, -87.221667
Fees / Permits: none
Bug factor: low to moderate
Restroom: yes, inside campus buildings
You must obtain a parking permit when you enter the University of West Florida campus. The boardwalk is slippery when wet. There are many benches along the walk, making this an easy trail for all ages.
From US 98, follow Nine Mile Rd west to University Pkwy. Turn right and drive 0.5 mile to the University entrance. Stop to obtain a parking pass, map, and directions to the trailhead, which is behind Lot 20.