Fern Forest Nature Center

Wi-Fi is available in the Royal Fern Hall.

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.

Squirrel frog
Park Shelter
Privates Parties

Psychotria nervosa
A yellow rat snake

Entrance Boardwalk: 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.

Exhibit Hall: 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.

Amphitheater: 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-cedarwood 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-specfiic 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."

Picnic Area: Six picnic tables available on a first-come, first-served basis. No fires or grills permitted.

Shelter: 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.

Maple Walk: A one-third-mile trail through a red maple swamp. Often soggy and muddy - boots are recommended.

Wetlands Wander: This interpretive trail runs an eighth of a mile along a canal, through a wetland community and a butterfly garden.

Sensory Garden Trail: A quiet area for relaxation and reflection.

Junior naturalists

Map of Fern Forest Trails
Full trail map (PDF 172 KB)

Volunteer Opportunities: Fern Forest's volunteer opportunities include native plant restoration/exotic removal, environmental education, clerical work, special events, trail upkeep, and trail interpretation. We are happy to work with you to find a good fit for your interests and schedule. Volunteers meet periodically for training and social events. The Fern Allies, the center’s volunteer organization, contributes greatly to the operation of the nature center.

EcoAction Days: Volunteer workdays are held on the first Saturday of every month from October through May, from 9 a.m. to noon. This is a great opportunity for students to get service hours. All participants must bring a completed workday application and a photo I.D. to the workday. Visit the Volunteers Web page for the workday application. For additional information, call 954-357-5198.

Environmental and Scouting Programs: Getting people of all ages involved in the appreciation of nature is the focus of many of the programs at Fern Forest. Opportunities include activities for boy and girl scouts, children's programs, school field trips, private group tours, special events, and more. Call the nature center at 954-357-5198 for more details and to make reservations.

Pets: No pets are allowed within the boundaries of the nature center.

Broward County Transit: The nature center is accessible via Routes #31 and #42.

A Little History: When the nature center opened to the public on November 17, 1985, it marked the culmination of a process that began in 1977. That's when the Land Use Plan mandated the first major stage of an expansion of the county's park system, followed a year later by the voters' approval of a $73 million bond issue to finance that expansion. In 1979, part of that money went to the Palm Aire Development Corporation, in exchange for most of the land that became Fern Forest. The site was previously known as Cypress Creek Hammock, a nod to its status as a remnant of the Cypress Creek drainage system, authorized in the early 1900s as a way to create more land suitable for farming. The surrounding area had a long history as farmland, dating back to the late 19th century, first for such crops as pineapples, tomatoes, beans, and peppers, and later for dairy farming. Portions of the surrounding area were also home to logging and milling operations in the 1930s. 

Fern Forest Nature Center
201 Lyons Rd. South, Coconut Creek, FL 33063
Phone: 954-357-5198
Fax: 954-357-5295
Email: FernForest@broward.org

entrance to building at Fern Forest Nature Center