An oasis of ancient live oaks, tropical hammocks, and wetlands covering more than 140 acres in Davie, Tree Tops Park is a success story for conservation, as this former dairy farm was once slated to become a golf community before Broward County protected it for its residents in 1980. In addition to its walking trails amid the beautiful oak canopy, this extensive park is also home to equestrian and canoe trails and connects directly to Pine Island Ridge Natural Area.
Length: 1.2 miles
Lat-Lon: 26.074014, -80.275259
Fees / Permits: Entrance fee applies on weekends and holidays: $1.50 per person or $8 per carload, whichever is less.
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: at park office
Open 8 AM to sunset. Canoe rentals are available near the park entrance to ply the waterways. Fishing (freshwater license required) is permitted except along the nature trail. There are numerous picnic groves throughout the park, as well as a Safety Town for children to explore. The park is also the main gateway to Pine Island Ridge Natural Area.
From I-595, take Nob Hill Road south for 2.6 miles to the park entrance on the left. Follow the park entrance road back to the park office. 3900 SW 100th Ave, Davie.
The paved trail behind the park office leads to Pine Island Ridge Natural Area. To explore the nature trails of Tree Tops Park, follow the sidewalk around the parking area, crossing the road marked “Authorized Vehicles Only” to reach the “Hiking Trail” sign. Turn right and enter the forest. At the T intersection, turn right. A footpath winds under the tall live oaks and red bay, the understory of wild coffee and marlberry. Turn left at the T intersection. At the next T intersection, turn right. The trees in front of you bend as if shaped by the wind, and the bright red blooms of firebush dance like little flames as you immerse in an oak hammock with a tropical understory.
The trail drops down to skirt the edge of a wetland area, where you hear the chirps of crickets and frogs. When you reach the paved trail, keep going—it leads to the start of the marsh boardwalk. The marsh is a shallow wetland, reminiscent of the Everglades habitats that used to surround these rocky ridges. Swamp lilies rise from mats of purple pickerelweed, and duck potato waves in the breeze. Sawgrass and giant leather ferns lend a primeval feel. Turn right at the T to walk down to the end of the boardwalk. Lance-leaved arrowhead surrounds a small tree island, while alligator flag grows from the deeper water. The boardwalk ends at an observation platform with benches, a great place to watch for alligators and wading birds.
Turn around and walk back up the boardwalk, passing your incoming route to get to another observation platform on the right, a good place to peer down into the water to see catfish, crappie, and sheepshead nosing around in the coontail. Turn right as you leave the observation platform to continue along the boardwalk as it curves around, ending at the shoreline. Continue straight past the picnic pavilion. At the trail junction, keep going straight, but at the following T intersection, turn right. You pass a trail coming in from the left as you walk through the hammock, well-shaded by the dense live oak canopy. At next trail junction, keep right. Pause to take a look at the fallen oak. A strangler fig emerges from its base. With its trunk lying on the ground but the tree very much alive, two branches of the oak have grown upward into trees.
Dropping downhill under tamarind trees, the trail curves left around a murky concrete tank. With the tropical habitat surrounding it, it’s reminiscent of a jungle scene in India. But this is one of a handful of remnants of the dairy farm that occupied the property before it was preserved as a park. Coming up to a wall of strangler fig, the trail goes to the right around a large concrete silo. Walk around the front of the silo for a better look at the massive strangler fig tree, where the footpath meets the paved trail. The paved path to the right leads to the marina.
Turn left and go up the ramp beneath the fig, entering a scene straight from Swiss Family Robinson as you climb up the tall tower into the canopy. Although the tower isn’t tall enough to let you look over the canopy, the view from within is beautiful, as you can look into the canopy and see butterfly orchids, wild pine, and resurrection fern in the limbs of the ancient live oaks. As you come down the staircase, notice the other crumbling ruins of the farm being eaten up by the vegetation around you, a concrete slab and stairs vanishing under the waves of green.
At the bottom of the tower, take a right down the short set of stairs and turn right. At the T intersection with the paved trail, turn left. At the next T, turn right as the trail winds past a bench and through a grove of oaks. Where the paved trail loops back on itself, turn right to follow the footpath into the oak forest, brushing by indigoberry and wild coffee as you come up to another trail junction. To the right is a dense thicket. Turn left. Emerging at an open spot, you see the park road and pavilions to the right. At the trail intersection, continue straight, and you meet up with the paved trail again. Make a quick right, then a left to get back on the natural footpath through the forest.
Passing a chickee used for cultural education, you’re reminded of the Seminole influence on this land. Pine Island and Tree Tops remain sacred sites for the Seminoles. As well as the importance of Abiaka and his home to their people’s history, tucked away in these forests are the ancient burial mounds of their ancestors. Walk softly as you ponder how much the land has changed since the Seminoles lived here. When you emerge at the junction of trails right behind the “Hiking Trail” sign, turn right. At the parking lot, make a left to walk back towards the park office, completing the hike.