Seacrest Scrub Natural Area

Palm Beach County

3400 Seacrest Boulevard
Boynton Beach


At 54 acres, Seacrest Scrub is small by most standards. It offers less than a mile of hiking trails, including the 0.18-mile Gopher Tortoise Trail, which is handicapped accessible. However, it offers a rare piece of undeveloped coastal scrub in South Florida and a diverse array of plants and animals, including some that are considered endangered. And generally speaking it's quiet, unless the FEC railroatrain along the east boundary is running, which fortunately, is not all that often.

Seacrest Scrub Natural Area is also a piece of history. It is among the oldest natural areas in Palm Beach County, and like a number of others, the fact that it was in something of a natural state at the time that the county bought it was a bit of an accident. In the 1983, the Royal Palm Audubon Society in Boca Raton began a push to create a system of "wilderness islands" in the county, preserving environmentally key pieces of land. In 1991, voters of Palm Beach County approved a $100 million bond issue to finance the plan.

In the early 1990s, the then-owners of Seacrest, the Cedar Grove Investment Corp., planned a housing development on the tract but decided to push for a higher density for the project. An alliance between neighbors outraged by the plan and activists who saw an opportunity to preserve an environmentally sensitive piece of land fought the developers — and won. The county bought the land in May 1994 for $2.05 million. Seacrest Scrub Natural Area open in October 1998.

Seacrest itself is a dry, sandy place dominated by large slash pines and sand pines, small shrubby oaks and saw palmetto. It covers 54 acres on an ancient coastal dune ridge. Part of it was a pineapple farm back before 1910 but a fungal disease and cheap imports killed the industry in South Florida. Portions of Seacrest had been cleared over the years, roads cut through it and sections burned, but otherwise never developed.

Facilities include an ample parking lot, educational kiosk and two trails — the 0.75 mile Sand Pine Trail along with the aforementioned Gopher Tortoise Trail — but no water or restrooms. A maintenance road runs north and south and can be explored, as can peremeter roads. The trails, by and large, are well maintained making for easy hiking. The roads can be a bit of slog in places because of deep, loose sand.

We’ve seen osprey, gray fox, raccoons, various warblers, mockingbirds, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, gopher tortoises, plus a variety of spiders and lizards, including the six-lined racerunner. The variety of plants include burrowing four o'clock, milk pea, giant air plant, cardinal airplant, Florida rosemary, large-flowered rosemary, love vine, white-mouth dayflower, skyblue lupine toad flax, Feay's prairieclover and Feay's palafox. And a lot more.

The Institute for Regional Conservation's plant inventory can be found here; The Great Florida Birding Trail's listing for Seacrest can be found here. The 2002 management plans for Seacrest, which includes land history plus lists of plants and animals found on the site, can be found here.
Virtual Tour

Cover Photo: Seacrest Scrub being a scrub, it might make more sense to use a photo of a gopher tortoise — of which we have taken many here — than an osprey as the "cover" for this page. But the osprey, photographed at Seacrest in February 2016, is a nod to the place's ancient past as a coastal dune. Opreys were one of 11 animal species listed as threatened or endangered that Palm Beach County land managers recorded at Seacrest when they surveyed the property in the 1990s. Seacrest is as dry as a proverbial bone — there isn't so much as a drop of standing water anywhere — but it sits a half mile from the Intracoastal Waterway to the east and about the same distance from Lake Ida to the west, a perfect spot for an osprey to enjoy dinner likely caught in one of those two bodies of water. Click on the photos below for full-sized images and detailed descriptions.

  • In the Beginning ...
  • Invasion of the Slash Pines
    slash pines
  • Sand Pines Along the Sand Pine Trail
    sand pines
  • The Scrub in Seacrest Scrub
Getting There ...
Seacrest Scrub Natural Area is situated 2 miles south of Woolbright Road along Seacrest Boulevard in Boynton Beach. From the north, exit I95 at Woolbright and head east to Seacrest; turn right and follow to the natural area on the left. From the south, exit I95 at Atlantic Avenue and head west to Congress Avenue. Turn right and follow to Lake Ida Road. Turn right again and follow to NE 2nd Avenue and turn left. NE 2nd becomes Seacrest; follow a little more than a mile to the natural area on your right.

Photo Gallery for Seacrest Scrub 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.