Imagine passing by a preserve dozens of times over the years and never seeing it. That’s what I’d done here in Flagler Beach, rumbling across the SR 100 bridge for the past decade, never noticing that there were natural lands with trails just below. It took a visit earlier this year – and a mention by my host at Island Cottages of the “great boardwalk for birding” downtown – for me to uncover the mystery in plain sight, the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve.
It’s been around since the early 1990s, with boardwalks that lead through the mangrove tangle from the boat ramp under the big bridge over the Intracoastal to a little park downtown, some of the more extensive boardwalks I’ve seen in a preserve of this size. There are land trails, too, centered around a large and, when I was there, entirely vacant parking / restroom area accessed via a one-lane limerock road into the marshes.