It’s a tiny corner, only 13 acres, but Helene Klein Pineland Preserve packs in a nice walk through that small space. Surprisingly, there is a tiny patch of marl prairie habitat hidden in here among the pine flatwoods, which boast a tropical understory where tall wild coffee and firebush thrive. A paved sidewalk and several boardwalks make this an entirely accessible half mile walk.
Location: Coconut Creek
Length: 0.5 mile
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: low to moderate
There are numerous interpretive signs and benches along the trail. Bicycles and skateboards are not allowed but strollers are welcome. Pets are not permitted. Hour-long guided walks with a naturalist are offered October-May for $5 per person. Call ahead to 954-357-5100 to make arrangements.
Helene Klein Pineland Preserve
From I-95, follow Hillsboro River Blvd west for 5.5 miles. The preserve is at the northwest corner of Hillsboro River Blvd and Lyons Rd. Go past Lyons Rd. It’s easy to get confused as to where to turn, since there’s a pulloff right in front of the preserve but that’s not the parking area. Continue just past the pulloff to the first turn on the right, which looks like it goes into a storage unit business, and keep to the right after you turn in. The fenced area marks the trailhead parking. It has a kiosk at one end where the trail starts. Address: 4701 West Hillsboro Blvd., Coconut Creek, FL
The walk begins as the paved path leads you through a dense thicket of silver-tinged saw palmetto beneath tall slash pines. When you reach the T intersection for the loop, turn right. Meandering through the pines, note the thick growth of ferns in damp places and wild coffee growing as huge bushes in drier areas. Bromeliads cling to all of the trees, even the pines. The trail circles around, passing some large limestone boulders, as it comes to a long boardwalk over the marl prairie. It’s a tiny patch but still amazing, since it speaks to the Everglades sawgrass habitat that was once here before housing developments swallowed the region. Dozens of butterflies flutter around a showy firebush. A cypress strand defines the edge of the marl prairie. As the trail loops back around, you pass a side trail to a rain shelter looking out into the forest, and another side trail leading to a back entrance to the preserve. Once you complete the loop, turn right to exit.