Take a Walk on the Wild Side on National Trails Day

Pondhawk Natural Area. Photo by Lee Lietzke
Pondhawk Natural Area. Photo by Lee Lietzke
Pondhawk Natural Area. Photo by Lee Lietzke

The American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day is Saturday, June 3. And to celebrate, the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) is hosting a hike at the Hungryland Slough Natural Area, in our very own Palm Beach County.

Hungryland Slough is one of the County’s largest restoration projects. The nature area’s more than 3,000 acres features eight distinct ecosystems ranging from prairie to swamp, and tons of wildlife like hawks, otters, butterflies and more. 
If you can’t make it Saturday’s guided hike, don’t fret. Palm Beach County has lots to offer when it comes to hiking, according to Jacey Biery, environmental analyst with the ERM.

“Palm Beach County has 33 natural areas to explore from Boca Raton to Jupiter,” Biery says. The local system of natural areas has 31,000 acres with more 160 miles of trails—just waiting to be explored. Hiking trails of different lengths and varying degrees of difficulty offer something for anyone wanting to see nature up close and personal, according to Biery. There are concrete walking trails that are less than 1/2 a mile long, and local dirt hiking trails range from 1/4 mile to 3 miles in length.

Loxahatchee Natural Area. Photo by Lee Lietzke.
Loxahatchee Natural Area. Photo by Lee Lietzke.

“If you are looking for more of a challenge, some trails become inundated in the wet season. Join [ERM] staff for events like the Bike and Hike, August 12, for a 10-mile bike ride and a 1/3-mile hike through ankle deep water!” she says. The 1/3 mile hike takes an hour, according to the Facebook event for that adventure.

“The natural areas are a place to unwind and witness some of nature’s most beautiful events,” Biery says. Whether exploring the local trails by kayak, on foot or on a bike, it’s always best to go early in the morning or late in the evening to see the native wildlife or take in an amazing sunrise or sunset, Biery said.

Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area. Photo by   Ann Mathews.
Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area. Photo by
Ann Mathews.

Hungryland Slough Natural Area is at 12385 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road in Palm Beach Gardens. The hike starts Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Hikers should wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, closed-toed shoes and hats, as well as bring bug spray, snacks and plenty of water.

If you’re not up for the trek to Palm Beach Gardens, here are some natural areas in our neck of the woods (literally):

  • Leon M. Weeks Natural Area, 2800 Albatross Rd, Delray Beach
  • Delray Oaks Natural Area, 2021 SW 29th St, Delray Beach
  • Yamato Scrub Natural Area, 701-767 Clint Moore Rd, Boca Raton
  • Pondhawk Natural Area, NW, 1501 Spanish River Blvd, Boca Raton

For more about our local walks on the wild side, go to the ERM’s website. For more about the American Hiking Society, go to nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org.

Frenchmans Forest Natural Area. Photo by   Ann Mathews.
Frenchmans Forest Natural Area. Photo by
Ann Mathews.