South Floridians, Moms and Dads, kids everywhere – Looking for something exciting, educational, and CHEAP to do this summer with the kids? Look no further than Grassy Waters Preserve!
Just a few months ago, we took a group of special needs children to the Grassy Waters Preserve, and I was amazed at not only how much I didn’t know about the area, but how much I learned while having a blast!
The adults and the children took a canoe trip all around the wetlands, saw all the indigenous animals, and learned about the ecosystem and how we can protect it. In addition to the hands-on educational experiences for all ages, kids got to try dipnetting and a swamp tromp, and they even caught a few creatures!
Several have gone back since our trip with their own families, eager to share what they’ve learned and see even more.
Even though there have been devastating alterations to the flow of water through southern Florida, Grassy Waters Preserve continues to be a valuable and unscathed memory of the once great Everglades system.
Filled with wetlands, tree islands, and forested hammocks, many native wildlife can be found at the Grassy Waters Preserve, including the everglades snail kite, wood stork, white ibis, great blue heron, white tailed deer, otter, bobcat, and alligator.
Linked to the Florida Everglades and once a major portion of the River of Grass, these 20 square miles exist relatively untouched by man, except for regulated tours from local volunteers.
Grassy Waters Preserve boasts a nature center, a boardwalk, and several trails, some ADA accessible, that can be traveled via canoe, kayak, or by foot.
There are five exciting trails with guided tours open to children and adults, and each of them is a welcome experience away from the everyday hustle and bustle life of the big city.
The Cypress Boardwalk Trail is a wheelchair- and stroller-friendly tour extends through the marsh and cypress swamp. On the way, you’ll be sure to see snail kites and bald eagles nest here in winter. Also be on the lookout for alligators, pig frogs, apple snails, great blue herons, and anhigas.
The Hog Hammock Trail is a bikeable trail made with crushed concrete with intermittent boardwalks. The area is a combination of restored and natural wetland communities including cabbage palm hammock, mesic pine flatwoods, forrested wetlands, and cypress domes.
Throughout this tour, you can will get to see wading birds like snowy egrets, glossy ibis and roseate spoonbills. Alligators are common in the canal while bobcat and deer can sometimes can be sighted on the levee.
The Eagle Trail is adjacent to the Gator Lake canoe launch and is a narrow trail of sand full of exposed limestone loops around Gator Lake, meandering through wet prairie bordered by cypress. On this tour, you can expect to see bobcat, otter, snail kite, woodpecker, and wild turkey.
The Owahee Trail has a bikeable perimeter trail that follows a levee containing sections of loose sand, dirt, and crushed concrete. Wildlife you may see includes snowy egrets, glossy ibis and roseate spoonbills. Alligators are common in the canal while bobcat and deer can sometimes can be sighted on the levee.
The Apoxee Trail is a short, paved ADA trail which branches off into a natural substrate trail consisting of sand and boardwalks. The trail winds through restored wetland hammock and pine flatwoods.
Heavy rains can cause trail flooding. Heavy rains can cause trail flooding. Muddy conditions can be expected.
Wildlife viewing: Wading birds include snowy egrets, glossy ibis and roseate spoonbills. Alligators are common in the canal while bobcat and deer can sometimes can be sighted on the levee.
Grassy Waters Preserve is located in West Palm Beach and is pleasantly priced at just $1 per person, or $5 per carload (suggested donation), and is open from 9-5 daily with classes and canoe rentals available at all times.
It is obvious how much the volunteer instructors and guides love their job and the area they are devoted to protecting.
For more information, contact Grassy Waters Preserve