We get out about once a week to hike usually in central to western North Carolina. We hike slowly and stop often to enjoy the views and the little treasures that nature offers. We enjoy waterfall, river, and mountain hikes frequently visiting The Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Moutains National Park, and Pisgah National Forest.
Last December we returned to Florida for a week to visit family and enjoy our old home area. We took time out to visit an old favorite, the Wakadohatchee Wetlands. Located at 13026 Jog Road, Delray Beach, Florida. The wetlands were created as a home for wildlife and a filter for highly treated waste water. They are very much like the everglades and one of the best places we have seen for viewing wildlife. The advantages are that they are close to town and the 3/4 mile boardwalk is handicap accessible. You could almost believe that you are in a zoo but these animals are all here by free choice.
There is a parking lot provided but there are no restrooms or other facilities. This is a popular spot and the lot is often full and the boardwalk busy. The first section of boardwalk is the busiest with people stopping to take pictures and enjoy the wildlife but you can easily pass on this wide boardwalk. Very near the beginning we saw a crowd gathered watching a roseate spoonbill feed. We find that gathered people usually means a large alligator or a less common bird is nearby. On the left before you reach the loop is a shallow area with a log that is a good place to spot alligators or turtles. When you reach the fork in the boardwalk you are at the beginning of the loop portion of the walk.
We usually walk to the right first passing marsh areas that are usually populated with wading birds, small ducks, and turtles. Around the corner on the left are purple martin hotels that are very busy in late winter and an island on the right that usually has several great blue herons roosting. If you come at the right time of year you may see several nests full of young. The next section has much thicker growth and you must search harder to find the wildlife here. At times we have seen marsh rabbits on the far shore in this area. Around the next corner you leave the boardwalk and are on a concrete walk for a time before returning to boardwalk.
The left side of this last section of boardwalk is a good place to spot turtles and waterfowl. Today we saw these guys eating "salad." On the other side is an island that is usually populated by Anhingas and used as a rookery in season. As you approach the end of the loop this is a good area to spot an alligator. Returning to the parking lot we were able to stop and watch the spoonbill fishing in the same general area. Most every trip here we have seen an alligator or two and many turtles and varieties of birds. This place has never disappointed us.
A friend had told us about the more recently opened Green Cay Wetlands just a few miles away at 12800 Hagen Ranch Road so we went there next. This a newer area and has a larger parking lot and a nature center with facilities. The nature center was closed when we arrived in late afternoon but the restrooms were open. There are 1.5 miles of boardwalk here forming a sort of figure eight with the center of the eight leading back to the nature center. There is a more open feel to the water here perhaps because this is a newer area with less mature growth. We saw many of the same varieties of birds here as a Wakadohatchee.
At each of the two wetlands we saw one roseate spoonbills. Another visitor at Green Cay offered an interesting suggestion. Perhaps they were a pair that got tired of each other and were taking a break. The one at Green Cay didn't seem at all disturbed by all the "traffic" passing him while he fished. I would recommend visiting both wetlands if you have the time. Wakadohatchee seems to have a little more variety of wildlife but Green Cay has a nice nature center to enjoy also. This is an enjoyable place for all ages to learn about nature without getting your feet wet.