Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Enchanted Forest Park


The north branch of Arch Creek runs through Enchanted Forest Park in North Miami. Once a free flowing tidal stream draining the oak hammock through march and mangroves, it's now damned off from Biscayne Bay. The park is on the upper side of the damn, fresh water, but a few hardy mangroves have managed to survinve anyway.

A hundred years or so ago this was the site of an early settlement in the area, and Native Americans lived there for probably thousands of years before. A natural limestone bridge crossed the creet, providing easy land access to points south while the stream provided both fresh water and access to the bay. The first roadway to Miami went over Natural Bridge. A ramshackle trailer park was in the woods in the 1930's and 40's. By the end of the 1960's the push was on to develop hi-rises on the spot.

Community activists banded together with a private school and riding stable on nearby property, and a bond issue was passed. The western part of the property became a city park, the eastern portion a state park. The pony rink and horse stables were allowed to stay, as was the school. They can't change hands, but as long as the original owners stay there they could continue operating. The park is a popular picnic spot and the site of a day camp during the summer. On Hallowe'en there's a ghosts and goblins tour through the woods.

It's just a few blocks from my house and directly across U.S. 1 from Starbucks. Wildlife includes ducks, geese, racoons and opossums, with an occasional fox sighting, plus all sorts of wading birds and migratory song birds in season.

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