“You can hear the water lapping up against the rocks.” The Intracoastal Overlook’s her favorite getaway spot on Gumbo Limbo’s newly completed and elevated boardwalk.
“It’s a million-dollar view,” notes nature center manager Leanne Welch, on a tour through the tropical hardwood hammock.
Just under a ½-mile, the finished boardwalk takes visitors from the nature center on A1A to the parking lot at Red Reef Park West. An earlier phase opened in 2016.
The completed boardwalk trail is open from 7 a.m. to sunset.
“The new, raised extension replaces the old boardwalk that was closed in 2015 for safety reasons,” she said. Slats were replaced by attractive grating so kids can see out safely but can’t fall through.
Slopes were leveled to make them compatible with Americans With Disabilities standards, so everyone can use the trail. There’s seating at intervals for people to take a breather or a stroller stop.
The boardwalk itself is recycled plastic board, so no splinters.
This is what you’ll see.
“This forest is called a maritime coastal hammock and there’s only three remaining in Palm Beach County,” Welch said. “It’s cooler because its shaded.”
You can scan new tree labels on your cell phone to see more information than the names and genus. Pigeon plum. White mangrove. Gumbo Limbo. Strangler fig. Cabbage palm, Florida’s state tree.
“During high tides, you’re above the water and you can see fish swimming under your feet,” she added.
This is what you’ll hear.
“It’s so quiet, you don’t even know you’re in the middle of civilization,” Welch said. “You can ever hear the cicadas buzzing.”
Material for the 40-foot observation tower is already laid out, waiting to be assembled. “We’ll be above the tree line,” Welch said. “You’ll have a 360-degree view of the ocean and Intracoastal.”
The tower will have an incline to make it ADA accessible.
Friends of Gumbo Limbo committed $500,000 for that addition and plan a fundraiser soon, said Friends president Michele Peel. “We’re working with a major donor,” she added.
The resolution on naming rights was approved by City Council on July 23. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Friends and the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District was also approved.
The district underwrites many of the nature center improvements.
Coming up is the free birthday party for the center’s mascot Luna. Games, a puppet show and a piece of plant-based cookie cake are planned from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 8.
Click here for the schedule of events.
By Marci Shatzman