Best Nature Trail Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2014 - Coastal Hammock Trail at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
You live where other people dream of taking their vacations. Sure you have to go to work during the weekdays and sitting in I-95 traffic with a broken A/C in the long summer months is sucktastic. But toss on a pair of rubber flip-flops and stroll down to a beachside bar and you're on instant vacation. If you're looking to get more away from it all in the middle of it all, there's the Coastal Hammock Trail at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Smack in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, the park is literally "an oasis of tropical hammocks." Not the kind you lounge in with a daiquiri but the kind built over hundreds of years by cypress trees. For an entrance fee of just $2 to $4, here you'll find the few old-growth trees east of 95 that weren't ripped out for rabid development. That's because this pristine natural area was once part of Birch's estate. The park now is the destination for urban kayakers because of the milelong freshwater lagoon, but the Coastal Hammock Trail — another of the four distinct habitat "communities" within the park — is not to be missed either. The trail is a "native maritime tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem" offering signs along the way explaining the native vegetation. It's the perfect walk for the afternoon nature lover because it's conveniently located, and the entire trail is only a 20-minute walk. Afterward, you can visit the beach by taking the pedestrian tunnel that runs under A1A.