This 247.1-acre Designated Urban Wilderness Area takes its name from the abundance of ferns (more than 30 species) found on the property. It was this botanical richness that attracted the interest of scientists from Florida Atlantic University and Broward Community College (now Broward College), who in 1979 published an article called “A Tropical Fern Grotto in Broward County, Florida” in the American Fern Journal. “Vegetation in the area is complex, with swamp forest, hammocks, pinelands, and fallow fields,” noted the article. The researchers indicated that they had discovered “over 200 species of plants, and the list grows with each visit,” and characterized the site as “the last remaining stronghold of ferns in southeastern Florida.” In fact, 10 plant communities have been identified within the nature center, making it one of the finest examples of preserved native plant communities in South Florida. The nature center is also part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
There is an informational kiosk located at the entrance to this boardwalk, which covers a two-to-three-minute scenic walk from the parking lot to the nature center building and the entrance to the trails.
Includes interpretive exhibits of the park’s historical and natural history, along with displays of live native reptiles. Located on the first floor adjacent to the park office.
Royal Fern Hall
A 2,343-square-foot (120-175 capacity, depending on setup) assembly hall with warming kitchen and buffet counter, located on the second floor of the nature center. Available by reservation for meetings, receptions, etc. Reservation fee and deposit required. Wi-Fi available.
Covered and open on three sides (120 capacity). Available for weddings, concerts, etc. Reservation fee and deposit required.
Public Art and Design
Fern-Lore Guardian is a bronze-and-cedar work created by Jerome Meadows and installed in the park in December 1993. The pair of sculptures, easily visible from an elevated boardwalk, stands out in the woods, not far from the back of the nature center at the entrance to the trails. The artist’s statement explains that the piece is “a site-specific work commissioned expressly for the Fern Forest Nature Center. The sculpture draws visual and conceptual reference from seeds and plants, juxtaposing organic wood forms with metal.”
Six picnic tables available on a first-come, first-served basis. No fires or grills permitted.
One medium-size shelter (40 capacity), with eight picnic tables, water, electricity, and lights. Reservation fee and deposit required. Reserve Online
Cypress Creek Trail
A half-mile, wheelchair-accessible boardwalk through a tropical hardwood hammock, a cypress-maple swamp, and transitional communities.
Prairie Overlook Trail
This one-mile trail loops through an open prairie and an oak/cabbage palm community and includes an eight-foot-tall observation platform.
A one-third-mile trail through a red maple swamp. Often soggy and muddy – boots are recommended.
This interpretive trail runs an eighth of a mile along a canal, through a wetland community and a butterfly garden.