One of the smallest natural lands in Broward County, acquired in 2000, Helene Klein Pineland Preserve hides a secret at its heart, a relict patch of marl prairie.
According to the historic record, this woodland was once part of the headwaters of the Hillsboro River. Water from the Everglades trickled through here on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Uncommon now in this region, the marl prairie speaks to the amount of karst under its thin soil. Sticky marl mud precipitates from dissolved limestone.
It is a very biodiverse type of Florida grassland, known to host more than 100 plant species versus the typical 20 species in other freshwater marshes.
To find this hidden gem, you’ll need to walk the loop. Accessible paved pathways and boardwalks make this a pleasant immersion in nature for all ages and abilities.
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Location: Coconut Creek
Length: 0.5 mile loop
Address: 4701 W. Hillsboro Blvd, Coconut Creek
Land manager: Broward County
Open 8 AM to 6 PM. No pets, bicycles, or skateboards permitted. Strollers welcome.
A water fountain and picnic table are at the trailhead. There are numerous interpretive signs and benches along the trail.
Guided naturalist walks are sometimes offered Oct-May, call the county for details.
From Interstate 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 that pulloff to the first turn on the right, which looks like it goes into a storage unit business. Keep right after you turn in. The fenced area marks the trailhead parking.
Walk down to the kiosk at the edge of the parking area, where the trail starts.
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 Pine Flats Loop, turn right and continue beneath the pines.
Notice 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.
Pass some small limestone chunks of limestone and tall wild coffee in the understory of the tropical hammock that edges the prairie.
The trail comes to a long boardwalk over the marl prairie. Limestone juts from the forest floor.
It’s a tiny patch of prairie but still amazing to see since it speaks to the Everglades sawgrass habitat that was once here before housing developments swallowed the region.
A cypress strand defines the edge of this marl prairie. Dozens of butterflies flutter around a showy firebush.
As the trail loops back around, you pass a side trail to a rain shelter looking out into the forest.
The next boardwalk crosses a portion of another marl prairie, which mostly sits off to the right.
The side trail just beyond it leads to a back entrance to the preserve from an adjoining neighborhood.
Once you complete the Pine Flats Loop, turn right to exit.
See our photos of Helene Klein Pineland Preserve
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
A pretty patch of tropical hammock hides amid the bustle of suburbia in Parkland in Broward County on the half-mile loop through Doris Davis Foreman Wilderness Preserve
Behind Daggerwing Nature Center in busy South County Regional Park, an accessible boardwalk trail leads you into a remnant of tropical habitat with ancient trees.