Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge

The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, the last northernmost portion of the unique Everglades. With over 221 square miles of Everglades habitat, A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is home to the American alligator and the endangered Everglades snail kite. In any given year, as many as 257 species of birds may use the refuge's diverse wetland habitats.

There is a 5 mile loop canoe/kayak trail that was dredged through the sawgrass. You go by a few hammocks as well, which is where the gators nest and hang out. It's shallow, narrow, and has lillypads in it that they periodically dredge out. Consequently, this is a leisurely paddle even if you wanted to go fast. It's the only place I know of where you can easily kayak through a sawgrass community without getting cut up or scraping the kayak on rocks. You will get up close and personal with some alligators on this trip. There is a floating porta-potty at the 2.5 mile mark.

Not quite all of the 147,392 acre refuge is Everglades habitat. A four hundred acre cypress swamp is the largest remaining remnant of a cypress strand that once separated the pine flatwoods in the east from the Everglades marshes. A boardwalk into the swamp gives the visitor a chance for an up-close swamp experience without getting his or her feet wet.

Loxahatchee RefugeWeb Site

This is NOT the Loxahatchee River, although the two used to be connected. This is not part of Everglades National Park, but it is the same Everglades ecosystem.

Directions:

From the South via I-95
Take I-95 north to Atlantic Ave./FL-806 and go left. Travel west on Atlantic Ave./FL-806 about 7.5 miles to FL-7/US-441 and turn right. Travel north 3.1 miles to Lee Road and turn left. Travel west 0.3 miles to A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Go all the way to the end of the road to the parking lot by the canal. The trail is on the far side of the canal.

From the South via Florida Turnpike
Take Florida Turnpike north to Atlantic Ave./FL-806 and go right. Travel west 1.9 miles on Atlantic Ave./FL-806 to FL-7/US-441 and turn right. Travel north 3.1 miles to Lee Road and turn left. Travel west 0.3 miles to A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.Go all the way to the end of the road to the parking lot by the canal. The trail is on the far side of the canal.

From the North via I-95
Take I-95 south to FL-804 /Boynton Beach Blvd. Turn right onto FL-804 /Boynton Beach Blvd. Travel west 8.5 miles to FL-7/US-441 and turn left. Travel south 2 miles to Lee Road and turn right. Travel west 0.3 miles to A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.Go all the way to the end of the road to the parking lot by the canal. The trail is on the far side of the canal.

From the North via Florida Turnpike
Take Florida Turnpike south to FL-804/Boynton Beach Blvd. Keep right at the fork in the ramp. Keep left at the fork in the ramp. Turn left onto FL-804 / Boynton Beach Blvd. Travel west 1.9 miles to FL-7/US-441 and turn left. Travel south 2 miles to Lee Road and turn right. Travel west 0.3 miles to A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Go all the way to the end of the road to the parking lot by the canal. The trail is on the far side of the canal.

Entrance fee/parking: $5

Facilities: Canoe rental at the put-in site. The visitor center is by the cypress swamp. The boardwalk through the swamp is a must-see.

Put-in/Take-out: Go up the levee and down to the canal bank. Dirt/gravel put-in site.

Route: Go across the canal and into the canoe trail. When you get to the fork, you can go either way, since it's a loop.

Wildlife: All the Everglades aquatic critters- gators, herons, egrets, ibis, gallinules, gar, turtles.

Other Stuff: The canal is a good bass fishing area. The cypress swamp by the visitor center is awesome.

Maps from Mapquest.com

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