Size: 101.2 acres
Habitat: High hammock forest dominated by live oaks and slash pines. At an elevation of 29 feet above sea level, Pine Island Ridge has the highest natural elevation in Broward County.
Vegetation: Live oak, slash pine, hackberry, marlberry, wild coffee, beautyberry, swamp fern, and giant sword fern.
Wildlife: Gopher tortoises, great horned owls, migratory warblers, red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers, Cooper’s hawks, and atala butterflies. Pine Island Ridge is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, which is a network of nearly 500 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent bird-watching and/or bird-education opportunities.
Amenities: Interpretive signage throughout. Paved trail originating in Tree Tops Park leads to an interpretive shelter in Pine Island Ridge. Equestrian trails on the site link Tree Tops Park with Westridge, a Town of Davie park. Additionally, the Forest Ridge community is connected at its main entrance to Tree Tops Park by a paved walking path that meanders across Pine Island Ridge. Restrooms are available at Tree Tops Park.
A Little History: This 102.2-acre natural area, located in the Town of Davie, was formerly owned by the Belcher family and is now surrounded by citrus groves and the Forest Ridge residential community. The overall site, which opened to the public in February 1990, can be described as a crescent-shaped sandy ridge rising above former Everglades flatlands. At its highest elevation, 29 feet above sea level, it is also the highest natural point in Broward County.
The gently undulating topography of the ridge serves as a reminder that, although the Atlantic Ocean is now roughly 10 miles away, it once deposited fine sands and created dunes here 100,000 years ago. Sea levels fluctuated greatly during the most recent ice age, approximately 20,000 years ago, but eventually the Florida peninsula emerged and the ancient barrier island that is now Pine Island Ridge became a sandy inland ridge. That ridge became an island once again approximately 5,000 years ago when the Everglades formed – not an island at the edge of the ocean, but an island surrounded by an inland freshwater river of sawgrass.
Archaeological surveys have confirmed sites within Pine Island Ridge as the locations of hunting camps of the ancient Tequesta Indians. More recently, in the 1800s, as the historian Patsy West has written, “The Pine Island complex was probably one of the first permanent habitation sites occupied by the Seminole in southeastern Florida.”
West goes on: “During the Second Seminole War [1835-1842], Pine Island became known as the legendary refuge for the Seminole. The Island was in the uncharted Everglades where the military had never set foot, and appeared to be secure.” As West points out, Sam Jones, the Miccosukee war chief also known as Abiaka, was closely linked to the series of islands that included Pine Island Ridge and nearby Long Key. One of his primary residences was on Long Key, and Pine Island Ridge is where he was repeatedly besieged by U.S. government forces that wanted to corner and capture him. (The warrior is commemorated with a statue in Tree Tops Park, adjacent to Pine Island Ridge.)
Aerial image of Pine Island Ridge
Pine Island Ridge Natural Area
3900 S.W. 100th Ave., Davie, FL 33328