We have so many great nature areas around Volusia County. As a Florida Master Naturalist and nature lover, I love getting my kids out into them. Here is another one that I want to share with you. It's a great place to take kids to - it's called Ponce Preserve Park and it is located at 4401 Peninsula Dr. in Ponce Inlet. There is another access to it off A1A, but I find that the Peninsula Drive one is better, because it is central to all you will be doing.
When you pull into the park you will find that there is a small building with bathrooms and a parking lot. You have several options once you get parked. The Ponce Preserve offers free access and features:
- A boardwalk that goes through the mangroves out to the Halifax River. This long boardwalk is easy to walk on, wheelchair accessible, and works great for someone taking a walk with a stroller. It leads out to a couple of gazebos where you can sit and view the water. It's a nice walk, good surface, and easy for kids to make this walk. There is no shade, so be sure to bring sunscreen. This trail is across the street from the Ponce Preserve parking lot (there is a crosswalk).
- Back on the side where the parking lot is you will find picnic tables, a gazebo, two children's playground areas, and hiking trails. The trails are wonderful! They are all short enough that kids don't get tired, but they offer a great trek into nature. You are walking through the scrub habitat, filled with palmetto and live oaks. One trail leads back to a 350 year old live oak tree (which is awesome), and Green Mound, which is a Native American midden. The old live oak tree is at the base of the mound, so look behind the tree to see the mound.
- Another trail leads to an observation tower where you can overlook the scrub habitat. What a great view!
- You can continue to take the trail in a circle, leading back to the picnic table area, or you can take the walk that leads to the beach. This is a nice walk that has you cross over A1A to get to a boardwalk that leads down to the beach. A lot of the walk through the scrub habitat is shaded from the tree canopy. You will probably not get be able to use a wheelchair or stroller on these trails.
This is a great park! You can take the family here and pack a picnic. Take the walk across the street that leads to the Halifax River, take the one that leads to the old live oak tree, and the one that leads to the beach. On your way back take a different route to see the observation tower and more. When you are done taking the short hikes you can take a seat at the picnic table area for lunch and let the kids play at the wonderful nature-inspired playground.
You will see flowers (Indian blanket, beach daisy, etc.), live oak trees, palmetto, gopher tortoises, and lots more! Be sure to keep your eyes open for birds.
Here are some pictures from a recent visit of ours to Ponce Preserve: