On Sunday, May 31, Palm Beach County officially opened more than nine miles of new equestrian trails in Okeeheelee Park South with an early morning ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Commissioner Paulette Burdick. Among the nearly 100 attendees were about 50 who participated in the event on horseback.
“Palm Beach County has historically been an agricultural and equestrian community, and this project furthers our commitment to support our history and to provide top-notch horseback riding experiences for local equestrian enthusiasts,” said Commissioner Burdick.
Development of the trails included extensive removal of exotic vegetation. The resulting scenic system of equestrian trails offers equestrians a unique opportunity to experience nine distinct local ecosystems: basin marsh, depression marsh, dome swamp, hydric hammock, lakes and ponds, mesic flatwoods, prairie hammock, wet flatwoods, and wet prairie.
“This restoration project eliminates intrusive exotics and also preserves and enhances nine different ecosystems that our children and our grandchildren can learn about and enjoy,” said Commissioner Burdick.
Joining the commissioner were Parks and Recreation Director Eric Call and Peggy Kovacs, an original member of the former Okeeheelee Park Citizens Advisory Committee who served alongside Dr. Jim Brandon, for whom the Equestrian Center is named. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Commissioner Burdick aboard a Palomino named Sonny led the inaugural ride through the new trails.
The park’s master plan includes additional hiking and biking trails, which are well underway, and a canoe/kayak launch. Additional amenities include a playground, restrooms, and picnic facilities.
Okeeheelee Park and Jim Brandon Equestrian Center are operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. The trails are open daily from sunrise to one hour before sunset. There is no charge to use the trails. Visitors are advised to adhere to the posted rules. View the photo album on Facebook.
For more recreational opportunities available through the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, visit www.pbcparks.com.