Blazing Star Nature Preserve

Palm Beach County

1751 West Camino Real
Boca Raton


Overview: We've been exploring Blazing Star Nature Preserve since 2013, and we must say we've yet to spot one namesake blazing star plant on the property. It might be that we've just missed it or it might be that it no longer grows here. Things do change in nature. Plants come and go.

But this hardly diminishes the value of this skinny, scrubby 24-acre preserve. It's hard against I95 on the east side, hard against the CSX railroad tracks to the west. To the north is busy Palmetto Park Road, so quiet it ain't. But any piece of preserved land is precious, especially so scrub and scrubby flatwoods as found at Blazing Star. They are two of Florida's rarest habitats, and give life to many equally rare plants and animals.

Blazing Star seemingly gets better with each visit, no doubt due to the efforts of Boca Raton land managers who have restored and maintained the habitats in a healthy state. It's hardly perfect — the rear of the property backs up against a canal that is downright ugly — but invasives have been kept to a relative minimum, the trails are kept clear and the scrub habitats kept from overgrowing.

The north end of the preserve was once wetland, part of the Boca Raton Slough, which once flowed from the Everglades into what's now the Intracoastal Waterway. But about the only thing to suggest its past is the aforementioned canal and the lack of scrub plants. On the opposite side (north) of Palmetto Park Road is Cypress Knee Slough, a city-owned, undeveloped preserve.

The History: Blazing Star is a tiny remnant of an ancient beach, where the ocean met the Florida peninsula thousands of years ago. Its long, narrow shape and location wedged between the CSX tracks and the I95 right of way undoubtedly spared the land from the bulldozer. Boca Raton bought the property through the Florida Communities Trust Preservation 2000 Program. It was set to open in 2004, but the three hurricanes that hit the region that summer and fall pushed its public debut to early 2005. The gopher tortoises in Blazing Star were moved there in 2004 When CSX added a second set of tracks to the line west of the preserve.

What You'll See: Blazing Star is a place of small things, the occasional snake, gopher tortoises, song birds and scrub plants. Birds we've seen include northern cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers, blue jays, palm warblers and kestrals. Plants we've seen include saw palmetto, scrub oaks, sand pines, greenbriar, staggerbush, large-flowered rosemary, Florida rosemary, east coast dune sunflower, love vine, pricklypear, blue mist, tarflower, Feay's palafox and hog plum.

Amenities: There is a small parking lot, a sitting area in front and an interpretive kiosk. The trail is natural surface shaped like a figure 8 and about a mile long. There is no drinking water or restrooms.

Nearby: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and Spanish River Park sit several miles east of Blazing Star along A1A. Military Trail Natural Area is about five miles south along Military Trail in Deerfield Beach. Pondhawk Natural Area and Yamato Scrub Natural Area sit several miles north along Spanish River Boulevard and Clint Moore Road, respectively.

Virtual Tour

Cover Photo:Nature rarely gets more beautiful than a bright red cardinal, like this one we photographed at Blazing Star in May 2021.
Getting There ...
Blazing Star sits tight against I95 between Palmetto Park Road and Camino Real in Boca Raton. From either north or south, exit I95 at Palmetto Park Road and head west to Military Trail; turn left (south) to Camino Real. Turn left again (east). The entrance to Blazing Star is on the left (north side) across a set of railroad tracks just before the I95 overpass. There is a break in the median allowing traffic to turn directly into the parking lot.

Photo Gallery for Blazing Star Nature Preserve

Click on the photograph to see an enlarged image. Click on the name to read more about the species.

Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.