At the edge of Boynton Beach, where historic farmlands have given way to subdivisions over the last decade, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a buffer between development and the Everglades.
The River of Grass has been sliced and diced into canals and impoundments that prevent flooding of nearby suburbia while providing vast marshlands for waterfowl to roam.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Boynton Beach
Trailhead: 26.498420, -80.212604
Address: 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach
Fees: $10 per carload. Cyclist/pedestrian free. Duck stamps and federal recreational passes accepted for entry. $20 annual pass available.
Restrooms: At visitor center
Land manager: US Fish & Wildlife
Open 5 AM to 10 PM daily. Visitor Center normally open 9-4 daily except Christmas and Thanksgiving, but it remains closed during the pandemic.
From Florida’s Turnpike, follow Boynton Beach Blvd west for 1.9 miles until it ends at US 441. Turn left and drive 2 miles south to the park entrance on the right. The above map shows trailhead locations.
About the Refuge
Established in 1951 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge was a wise move that prevented the further expansion of communities into the fragile Everglades ecosystem, as has happened to its south.
It was created for wildlife, but also for humans as a natural water cachement area for the burgeoning population along Florida’s southeast coast.
A labyrinth of levees slices through this 272-acre marsh, creating ten separate impoundments known as Compartment C.
The refuge encompasses more than 145,000 acres of marshland, at least 25 miles long and 11 miles across.
In its watery interior, far from the levee trails, Florida panthers still roam the shallow river of grass, and tens of thousands of wading birds make their homes on tree islands, coming together in massive rookeries to raise their young.
Public use in the refuge is restricted to the Headquarters Area, where you’ll find two marked interpretive trails, and the levee system and open marsh to the south.
Along those levees, trails extend nearly 12 miles to Hillsboro Blvd. Off-road biking is the best way to explore the southern extent of the refuge.
Explore the park
Following the boardwalk behind the Visitor Center at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll enter a jungle-like wonderland along the Cypress Trail into a habitat lush with ferns and bromeliads
Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge offers guided hikes and canoe trips. Visit their website for details.
See our photos of Loxahatchee NWR
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Discover a bounty of bird life along the extensive boardwalks at Green Cay Wetlands, one of South Florida’s best urban birding destinations
Wading birds everywhere: that’s the delight of a walk along the boardwalks of Wakodahatchee Wetlands
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.