Grassy Waters Preserve is like the Everglades, but it’s right in West Palm Beach. Grassy Waters is a massive preserve – 20 square miles – that remains untouched because it is now the drinking water supply for the residents of West Palm Beach and several other communities.
Grassy Waters Preserve is home to a variety of native wildlife. Commonly sighted species including the Everglades snail kite, wood stork, white ibis, great blue heron, white-tailed deer, otter, bobcat, and alligator. For the United States, it’s a reservoir like no other. The nature center and boardwalk on the south side of Northlake Road provide the easiest public access to this unique preserve.
Hiking in The Grassy Water Preserve
The boardwalk trail at The Grassy Water Preserve is just under a mile long and takes you past a staffed nature center, where you can get detailed trail maps for the rest of the preserve. What I love about the boardwalk is that it has very low rails, so that if you’re pushing a wheelchair or stroller, the rider has excellent visibility. This is a great trail for families, as there are inviting rocking chairs situated under chickee huts along the way.
The longest Grassy Water trail is the Owahee Trail, 16.6 miles along the preserve’s perimeter. The several-mile sections we walked were actually hard-packed sand and dirt roads on the levee. The trail is good for mountain bikes not for thin-tire bikes.
Grassy Waters Preserve Cypress has an impressive natural population for you to view while you hike. Among other flora, you will find deciduous conifers all along the trail. They have a brown or gray bark with a stringy texture and their branches are often draped with clumps of moss. Bald Cypress trees grow up to 120 feet tall and regularly reach up to 600 years.
Where: 8264 Northlake Blvd. West Palm Beach, Florida 33412.
Directions: From Florida’s Turnpike, follow PGA Blvd 4.2 miles west to the Beeline (SR 710). Drive south 3.4 miles to Northlake Blvd (CR 709A). Continue 0.9 miles west to the park entrance on the left.