Pine Glades Natural Area

Jupiter, Palm Beach County

northern flicker
14122 W. Indiantown Road


Overview: Water, water everywhere at Pine Glades Natural Area. It's a very wet place. It is so wet that even in the midst of the driest of dry seasons, the trails can be a tad mucky. Pine Glades is the second-largest of Palm Beach County's 33 natural areas, with nearly 6,700 acres of wet prairies, marshes, borrow pits and wet flatwoods punctuated by cypress dome swamps and fill canals. Much of it is wide open with only a cabbage palm or two in sight.

In our experience, Pine Glades rates among the best of the natural areas for birding and one of the best spots in Palm Beach County period. The birding is good enough that the Florida Fish and Wildlife and Wildlife Conservation Commission added Pine Glades as a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail in 2023.

Palm Beach County's Department of Environmental Resources touts Pine Glades as among the best places in the county to watch the sunset. Because of its relative remoteness from city lights, it's regularly used to host astronomical viewing events.

History: Palm Beach County bought the 6,700 acres that make up Pine Glade using state and county funds in a series of purchases that began in 1999. Restoration work began in 2006, and Pine Glades Natural Area opened to the public in October 2014 after seven years of work that included removal of invasive plants such as Brazilian pepper and melaleuca, restoring natural water flow and construction of amenities at a total cost of $3 million. Portions of the land had been used in farming and ranching, while sections had been targeted for residential development.

What You'll See: The first impression of Pine Glades Natural Area is how wide open it is, acres and acres of restored wet prairie and marsh. It's the perfect place for wading birds and others with an affinity for water. Birds are plentiful and diverse. We've seen sandhill cranes, belted kingfishers, double-crested cormorants, great egrets, ospreys, swallowtail kites tree swallows and red-winged blackbirds, plus those shown in the gallery below. The list of plants found in the natural area reflects just how wet the place is: pond cypress, mermaid weed, water toothleaf, winged loosestrife, ladies tresses orchids and more.

Much of the seven-plus miles of hiking trails are inundated most of the year, so be prepared to get muddy if you want to get into the back country. If you prefer to not get wet, there's still plenty to see and do on trails that stay high and dry.

Amenities: Pine Glades Natural Area offers about 7.5 miles of hiking trails, including the 1.5-mile paved Quail Trail. There is a covered observation platforms and a fishing pier (catch and release). There is a portable toilet, plenty of parking and a canoe/kayak launch. There is no drinking water.

Nearby: Pine Glades Natural Area is situated in the heart of one of the biggest concentrations of conservation land north of Alligator Alley. To the east near the Turnpike and I95 exits sits Riverbend County Park, Cypress Creek North Natural Area, Cypress Creek South Natural Area and the Loxahatchee Natural Area. Also nearby: Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area, JW Corbett Wildlife Management Area, the neighboring John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Management Area, Dupuis Wildlife and Environmental Area, Hungryland Slough Natural Area and the Sweetbay Natural Area.

Links: The Great Florida Birding Trail's take on Pine Glades Natural Area is here. The Institute for Regional Conservation has limited data for Pine Glades, to say the least. The page is here.

Of Note: There is no admission charge to enter Pine Glades Natural Area; it's open dawn until dusk 365 days a year.

Cover Photo: We have photographed northern flicker woodpeckers during our travels in Wyoming and in Arizona as well as in Florida, but this shot, taken at Pine Glades is one of my best of this bird. Pine Glades Natural Area is among the best places in Palm Beach County to spot our avian friends, so putting the two themes together, voila, we have our cover photo.
Virtual Tour

Getting There ...
DIRECTIONS: Pine Glades sits about six miles west of the Turnpike and I95 along Indiantown Road. On either highway, exit at Indiantown and head west. Pine Glades Natural Area is on the south side of the road. The natural area can be reached via the Beeline Highway where it intersects with Indiantown Road.

Photo Gallery for Pine Glades Natural Area

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.