As the summer rains and mosquitoes move in take advantage of the end of South Florida’s hiking season by heading on over to the Fern Forrest Nature Center in Margate, Florida. This is an amazing place to spend a few hours with the kids. Entrance to the 247 acre park is free and offers guests a serene respite from the hustle of the city. Take advantage of these last few cooler days of spring to take a walk along one of Fern Forests five trails.
Hiking trails include a low boardwalk through tropical hardwood hammock, and cypress-maple swamp. It is an ideal place to spot birds, armadillo and even turtles. The boardwalk is perfect for small children who may have difficulty navigating uneven trails. Listen carefully as you wonder easily on the boardwalk and the rougher often muddy Maple Walk Trail for the scratching of an armadillo or the knocking of a woodpecker.
Be sure to check out the marker board at the trail entrance to find out what kind of wildlife has been spotted recently. The marker board will also let you know the mosquito levels as the wetland trails are great breading grounds, so be prepared with protective clothing and repellent as these little blood suckers can be disease carriers.
The indoor nature center offers a chance to see a very large Indigo Snake. Indigo Snakes are a rare and threatened species in Florida and the nature center offers guests a chance to find just why they are so important to Florida’s wildlife and its wetlands. The nature center offers several small exhibits demonstrating the importance and different types of habits are found South Florida.
Fern Forest Park offers guided tours, toddler programs, night walks and special events like Board Games in the Park on Sunday afternoons. Some of these programs have nominal fees that range between three to five dollars, and most are free. There are even opportunities for volunteers to come out and help with exotic plant species removal, trail maintenance, trail interpretation, and even clerical work for those who would rather not get dirty.