Following the boardwalk behind the Visitor Center at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll enter a jungle-like wonderland along the Cypress Trail.
Walk amid guava, pond apple, and strangler fig in a cypress slough that is one of the few remaining in this region, once one of many that used to naturally channel water to the Everglades.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Boynton Beach
Length: 0.4 mile loop
Trailhead: 26.499350, -80.212017
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.
Stop by the visitor center for an overview of the habitat before heading out on the trails. There is a canoe launch at the end of the park entrance road.
The nearby Marsh Trail provides a nice sample of the extensive dike trail system.
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.
After you walk through the interpretive displays at the visitor center, head out the back door and down the boardwalk to start the Cypress Trail.
It is a short loop through a picturesque cypress strand. If the visitor center is closed, go around the front and down the boardwalk to start your walk.
Keeping in mind the lack of railings on this boardwalk, look up and around you to marvel at the density of air plants in the cypress trees.
You see occasional giant bromeliads. Reminiscent of the witch’s apple proffered in Snow White, ugly green apples dangle from the pond apple trees, while red blanket lichen marches up the bark of the cypresses.
Ferns burst from the tiny islands created by the bases of the cypress trees, with giant sword fern and giant leather fern arching well overhead. Slender strap ferns climb up the sides of rotted trees.
This is a beautiful and richly textured place, a complex ecosystem that has all but vanished from this part of Florida as development has taken its toll on the natural systems of the region.
Benches provide several spots for you to sit and contemplate the forest. Take your time and enjoy.
You’ll insect repellent if you do. The interpretive walk is over almost too soon, as you return to the parking area after 0.4 mile.
Explore the park
Learn more about Loxahatchee NWR
See our photos of Loxahatchee NWR
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
At Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, the Marsh Trail provides a marked trail to follow on the extensive dike system. It is one of the region’s best birding sites, where you’ll see dozens of species.
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