Located in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is an island of respite amid a bustling city. Its status as a state park has ensured the area's preservation, but a charming history is attached to the beauty of this natural reserve along the shores of Florida. One of the most popular beaches in the state is the Fort Lauderdale beach, which flanks the park. Visitors are exposed to a host of opportunities for activities and things to do here from swimming at the beach at Birch State Park to hiking on the nature trails to canoeing in the largest of the dune lakes. A visit to the Birch State Park Florida is a must on the itinerary for those who are in the area of Fort Lauderdale.
The Hugh Taylor Birch State Park consists of 180 acres of coastal land with a 1.9-mile trail for hikers and bikers. Several lagoons and dune lakes are located within the boundaries of the park, the largest running north and south through the park. The last remnants of the marine tropical hardwood forest, known as a hammock, in Broward County can be found in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and one particular tree in the forested area gives off a pungent, bitter smell, similar to that of a skunk. This tree is known as the White Stopper, and rangers will be only too happy to show you the tree if you ask about the "skunk smell" when you arrive.
The delightful history of Birch State Park Florida begins in the late nineteenth century with a visit from Hugh Taylor Birch from Chicago. At the time, he was working with the Rockefellers' Standard Oil company as an attorney and legal adviser. Upon seeing the beauty of this coastal paradise, he bought three miles of land running along the coast at less than a dollar an acre and built a winter home, naming his new land Terramar, which is a combination of two words meaning earth and sea. Later, when his daughter married Frederic Clay Bartlett, Birch made a wedding present of 30 acres to them, where they built Bonnet House, just south of the today’s park. Terramar Visitor Center was previously Birch’s latest home, built after Bonnet House.
Activities in the park are abundant and come in a diverse selection to suit nearly every visitor. Sun-lovers can relax on the beach at Birch State Park, while hikers can trek the meandering nature trails that wind through the natural ecosystems, and visitors can even see several of the plants that Birch planted to enhance the area. Other activities include ranger-guided tours, biking and skating on the drive, fishing, and canoeing.
Any visitor to the Fort Lauderdale area should include Birch State Park Florida on their list of attractions to visit. This park not only features beauty and splendor, but also boasts fascinating natural history, even dating back to prehistoric eras. From the beach at Birch State Park to winding nature trails to tropical hammocks, there are activities to suit everyone, no matter what their age and interests.
Image: Florida Department of Environmental Protection