4 perfect hiking trails you must do in Palm Beach
Hiking trails…just the thought of it would make me shudder. Why would anyone subject themselves to the anonymity of the woods? The likelihood of befriending a bear, deer or worse, an alligator is not appealing. I choose life!
Two and a half years ago Phil and I descended on San Francisco with a handful of tips from friends on things we have to see! One of which was the Redwood Forest. Having seen some jaw dropping photos on Pinterest, we decided to brave it, ferocious animals be damned!
The heart of the Redwood forest however, turned out to be 5 hour drive away and we only had time for a one day stint. So we took a trip to Muir Woods instead.
I had never felt so small, so alive and so enthralled at the same time. If you’ve never been up close and personal with the reds, add it on your bucket list! These centuries old trees stand around in huddles lifting their majestic crowns to greet the sun. Their canopies created an atmosphere of light fog through the foliage and beckoned our chins forward and up. Before we knew it, we had wandered off the beaten path and into dense fields, lost, but at peace. Phil being the protector was always on alert and stopped at every animal footprint and gathering of scat to surmise its owner. *side eye* I on the other hand had been so entranced by our ascent into the redwoods that I forgot about my fear of being on the news.
“Jamaican female becomes the delicious yet bony snack of bears in the dense Redwoods. The only identification being her hearing aids.”
Before we knew it we had spent at least 5 hours on the hiking trails. No fatigue, just pure energy. This was the trip that confirmed my decision to have a hysterectomy. This was the trip that made me fall more in love with nature and set my soul on fire.
So when we returned to Florida, I began the search for hiking trails or woods near me. I have been living in West Palm Beach for 6 years and discovered a trail just 5 minutes away from home.
MORE THAN BEACHES
When you think of Florida, what picture comes to mind? Sunshine, sand and long stretches of beach! It’s what compels people here and the island girl in me, loves it. But if you want a little more than salt in your hair then a fresh dose of oxygen from our tree friends may do you some good also. So I braved a few trails for you, most of which are very suitable for the wild life fearers like me.
HIKING TRAILS YOU MUST DO IN PALM BEACH
Grassy Waters Preserve – Cypress Boardwalk
Wet, grassy and pristine but you could already tell that from the name right? The beauty of this place is that you get to walk through this beautiful ecosystem of wildlife and plant life from the comfort of a boardwalk. The accurate name for this spot is Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve, but saying everglades conjures images of bone crushing pythons and head snatching alligators. So let’s just stick with preserve – peaceful, alluring and safe! It’s beautiful all year round but exceptionally so in spring.
What to see here: bald eagles, alligators, snails, blue herons
What to do: Hike, kayak, guided tours
Location: 8264 Northlake Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33412
Hog Hammock Trail
Just across the street, and part of the Grassy Waters Park is Hog Hammock Trail. This 4 mile extension of the Grassy Waters Preserve sits on a section of the everglades and doesn’t appear to have a boardwalk. I say “doesn’t appear” because it looked so dense and too close to potential wildlife and it was evening, which I’m told is prime feeding time for the wild and my warrior of a husband was concerned for my safety (aka scared) so we made a U-turn after walking in for all of 60 seconds. But if the lake and picnic areas adjacent to the parking lot is any indication I’m sure the hiking trails are beautiful also. I’ll venture out again, but mid-morning to be safe!
What to see here: hawks, owl, otter, bobcats, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and more
What to do: Bike, Hike
Location: 8537 Northlake Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33412
Palm Beach Lake Trail
This paved side-walk trail for dreamers meanders through the backyards of the mansions on Palm Beach Island. Even though you’re in one of the elite zip codes on Palm Beach the trail itself is a melting pot of fishermen and women, joggers, children playing on docks and you just may brush shoulders with a celebrity or two. I happened on The Today’s show’s Hoda Kotb out for a stroll with her little one and nanny. No – I didn’t take selfies with her, I didn’t realize it was her until 5 seconds after giving her a polite hello as we walked by.
The Palm Beach Lake trail is flanked by manicured hedges, lanky palms, bougainvillea lined walls and flashy yachts docked by the intercoastal. The trail itself is about five and half miles long. If you want to walk the full trail it’s best to park your car at the metered spaces at South Lake Drive and Peruvian Ave. The trails starts at the docks and takes you across the street past the Society of the Four Arts onwards.
The trail will seem to end when you get to the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, but don’t worry. Just walk through the parking lots to get to Cocoanut Row (the main street) past the Breakers Palm Beach, Inc office and the Royal Poinciana plaza. At the traffic light, make a left towards the bridge and you’ll see the sidewalk continue next to the bridge, follow that to continue onto the rest of the trail.
What to see here: swanky yachts, pretty ‘lil’ mansions, West Palm Beach cityline
What to do: Ogle the lifestyles of the rich
Location: S Lake Trail, Palm Beach, FL 33480
Wellington Environmental Preserve
Seemingly off the beaten path, the access to the hiking trails are flanked by mini mansions and a private airstrip for its residents. Yes I was bug eyed too!
Wellington Environmental Preserve is 365 acres and includes many walking trails and an equestrian trail. The scenic hiking trails wind through marsh areas across lengthy boardwalks to lead to butterfly gardens, lookout towers and intimate trellis all while educating you about the flora in the area on small stone monuments. There are ample restrooms throughout so it’s the perfect spot for the family to bring out the bicycles. The observation tower provides sweeping view of the preserve, cow ranches and the city of Wellington. Bring your binoculars for bird watching and your cameras for the stunning sunset. Oh, and if you’re staying for sunset, bring a flashlight because it’s a hike (think mad sprint) to get back to the parking lot before the gate closes a little after sunset.
What to see here: birds, rabbits, maybe an alligator or two, fish
What to do: ride your horse, bike, hike, birdwatch
Location: 3491 Flying Cow Ranch Road, Wellington, FL 33470
So what do you think? Which trail are you mostly likely to try?