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Where to Hike with Kids in The Palm Beaches

Where to Hike with Kids in The Palm Beaches

Here are seven favorite spots to hike with kids in The Palm Beaches.

Scattered amid the gorgeous beaches, the tranquil Intracoastal Waterway, the enlightening museums, and the multitude of shops, the nature preserves, and scrub areas of The Palm Beaches are local treasures, and many of them have hiking trails. None of these trails are very long or difficult, but they are natural landscapes rich with wildlife and points of interest, making them perfect for capturing the interest of children. Here are seven favorite spots to hike with kids in The Palm Beaches.


1. Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Inland from Boynton Beach, this refuge is the northern extension of the Everglades, and it is vast—some 145,000 acres. Yet it’s a beautiful, accessible place for families to get into South Florida’s unique natural ecosystem in a big way. The half-mile Cypress Trail, which starts behind the Visitor Center, is a lush boardwalk trail that immediately engulfs you into a dense, picturesque landscape. The nearby Marsh Trail provides a taste of the extensive dike trail system, looping around marshes where you’re likely to spot a gator or two sunning itself. It’s just under a mile long (you can choose to hike longer off this trail if you wish), and there’s a viewing deck over the water, affording lovely views. Note that this trail is best explored on overcast days, as there’s little shade. 

Arthur Marshall National Park
Courtesy of @denisecflorida


2. Barefoot Mailman Park 

Located in the pretty Hypoluxo Scrub Natural Area, this 97-acre rectangular park is a little natural refuge bordered by busy highways and train tracks. Two wooden observation platforms and a statue of the Barefoot Mailman—an iconic south Florida symbol paying tribute to the mail carriers who traveled by foot and boat between Palm Beach and Miami in the 1880s—greet you in the parking lot. Beyond the fenced entranceway are .25 miles of paved nature trail and 1.5 miles of sandy hiking trail, winding past a desert-like landscape of palmettos, cacti, scrubby flatland, and gopher tortoises (which you’ll likely spot if they are not all burrowing). Kids love climbing the observation towers and searching for wildlife, which also includes gray foxes, indigo snakes, and of course countless anoles and geckos. 

Barefoot Mailman Park Hiking
Courtesy of Laura Siciliano-Rosen


3. Custard Apple Trail

Named for the custard apple trees (aka pond apples) that thrive in these marshy wetlands, this trail is really a network of several short trails, some of which are named (Coot, Custard Apple, Cypress, Heron, and Dahoon), that interconnect among the tropical hammock of John Prince Park in Lake Worth Beach. Each trail is a quarter- or a half-mile long, but you can string them together to make your hike longer. There’s plenty of shade and lots of lizards, butterflies, and giant grasshoppers to spot, plus pretty views of shimmering Lake Osborne. As a bonus, the kids can hit the park’s playgrounds post-hike. 

Custard Apple Trail hiking
Courtesy of Laura Siciliano-Rosen


4. Apoxee Trail

At the southern end of the 23-square-mile wetlands ecosystem that is the Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach, the 2.5-mile Apoxee Trail offers a great taste of South Florida’s lush, pristine natural landscape. From the parking lot you can get started with a beautiful little half-mile loop trail over paved ground and then continue onto the natural-surface trail for a lovely two miles, if conditions permit (the trail experiences seasonal flooding). The Apoxee Trail does not loop, so be prepared to back-track or else go for a 4.2-mile loop trail that incorporates some of the perimeter Owahee Trail. Lots of native wildlife is typically spotted here, from countless bird species to white-tailed deer, otters, and alligators. 

Apoxee Trail
Courtesy of Laura Siciliano-Rosen


5. Hog Hammock Trail

Also part of the Grassy Waters Preserve, but on the northern end, the Hog Hammock Trail takes you through, as the name suggests, a tropical hammock that gets quite lush and dense. A combination of crushed-gravel-and-shell surface plus picturesque boardwalks, this trail and its nearby trails can be tackled in a variety of ways, depending on how far you want to go. On Hog Hammock itself, you can hike a one- or two-mile loop, and at the north end of it, you can add another two miles (there and back) along the Promontory Trail. Additionally, you can combine this with the short but diverse Eagle Trail (.7-mile), which leaves from the same parking lot as Hog Hammock and encircles a lake, and/or the one-mile Cypress Boardwalk trail, on the other side of Northlake Boulevard. So many options! 


6. High Ridge Scrub Natural Area

In Boynton Beach, this 39-acre scrub area features a scrubby desert-like habitat, complete with prickly pear cactus, similar to that found in Barefoot Mailman Park, in the nearby Hypoluxo Scrub Natural Area. It’s likewise an important habitat for gopher tortoises, which kids are very likely to spot. But the quarter-mile paved trail and the 1.5-mile natural trail also has rolling sandy hills, thanks to the area’s history as a sand mine. It’s an unexpected bit of elevation in an otherwise flat region, and kids love running up and down the remnant dunes.  

High ridge scrub natural area
Courtesy of @pondcypressstudio


7. Winding Waters Natural Area

This quiet, tranquil nature preserve in West Palm Beach features 548 acres of wetlands and woods to wander through. Start with the easy paved nature trail (a half-mile each way) and, if your kids can handle more, continue onto the natural-surface hiking trail system: The more exposed Wetland Trail covers another 4.3 miles, while the shadier Woods Trail adds on .6 mile (from there you can make a loop back to the paved trail by hopping on the Wetland Trail for about three-quarters of a mile). Along the way there are a few picturesque boardwalk bridges, shade shelters, and an observation platform for viewing the many bird species (and alligators!) that hang out here. There’s also 3.3 miles of canoe/kayak trail here if you have your own vessels! 

Header picture courtesy of @denisecflorida  


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