The Wonders of the Grassy Waters Preserve

As a lover of nature and all things wildlife, one of the best things about now living in Florida is the year-long access to gorgeous parks and preserves. I took some time last month exploring a few of the walking paths in the Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach, FL (there are five total). It was an unbelievably gorgeous sight. Everything was extremely green and it had just rained, making everything just sparkle.

I first set out to explore the Apoxee Trail. The access was a little confusing to get into, but once I got in, I was the only one at the trail. Assumingly, this is because the rains had flooded part of the trail. This is a 2.5 mile long trail (I did not complete the full thing) that is only for hiking and wildlife viewing (no biking). On one of the natural substrate paths, I went as far as I could until it was too flooded to continue.

While at this site, I saw countless anoles, two southern leopard frogs, one southern cricket frog, one belted kingfisher, and many insect species.

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The start of the trail at the entrance of the Apoxee Trail.
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One of the southern leopard frogs spotted on the trail.
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One of the countless anoles.
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The second southern leopard frog on the trail.
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The gorgeous open water off the first natural substrate path.
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The tiny southern cricket frog spotted here
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Many invertebrate species also call this trail home
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The end of my tour of this trail. The path was flooded as far as I could see.
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Make sure to cover yourself for protection from mosquitoes! I still got bit 7 times!

After exploring the Apoxee trail, I knew that I wanted to explore more of this preserve, so a few days later, I explored two more trails, the Cypress Boardwalk Trail and the Hog Hammock Trail.

The Cypress Boardwalk is one of the shorter trails of the preserve at only 0.65 miles. As stated in the name, the majority of the trail is a boardwalk that is easily wheelchair accessible. Like the Apoxee trail, there is no biking allowed here either. This trail had the most beautiful sights, but also the least wildlife (which could be due to the fact that I went later in the day). I saw multiple anoles, one great blue heron, one anhinga, a few other birds, and multiple insects .

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The first thing you see upon arriving at the Cypress Boardwalk Trail is this spectacular sight.
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The majority of the trail looks like this and is suspended over water or moist substrate.
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One of the many anoles spotted here.
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This trail is also home to many invertebrate species including this gorgeous green dragonfly.

The final trail I explored was the Hog Hammock Trail. This is a 2.8 mile trail that has two loops so that you can choose to do the half trail or the full trail. Unlike the other two I have mentioned, this trail does allow biking. I wasn’t able to spend too much time here as I forgot to bring along bug spray and was getting eaten alive, but it was a very beautiful trail as well. I didn’t see much, but I did hear a lot more birds here and saw many birds as well that I am unable to remember at this point. Like the other trails, there were a lot of anoles present here as well, and I was able to see a Southern Black Racer (unfortunately, he moved to fast for me to get a picture). Someone on the trail before me also said that they spotted and almost hit a Cottonmouth with their bike, but I was unable to confirm or deny that claim in the short amount of time I was on the trail. There was also a young alligator spotted by a couple ahead of me that I missed as well. Again, I got there late in the day so I likely missed out on a lot of wildlife.

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This is what most of the trail looks like. It is all natural substrate and very green.
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Another look at the substrate found along this path.

This is an amazing preserve to visit if you are ever in the area. As far as I know, all of the trails are free to access. I will be back to explore more of these trails and Florida’s beauty.

 

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