Hiking Overview: Everglades National Park

Gorp.com
A great blue heron spears a bountiful Everglades harvest (Corel)

Everglades National Park, Florida

  • Journey through multiple ecosystems of pine woods, tropical hardwood hammocks, coastal prairie, and wildlife-rich environments—most Everglades trails spur off Main Park Road.
  • The Long Pine Key Nature Trail is the 7.5-mile backbone of interconnecting trails through the Pinelands. Hardwood hammocks and sawgrass prairie enhance the scenery.
  • Spy alligators along the Anhinga Trail in Royal Palm Hammock. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is an interpretive loop through rich, tropical woodland.
  • Keep binoculars handy for up-close observation of birdlife on the popular Snake Bight Trail, a 1.8-mile path to an observation deck and Florida Bay. Note the saltwater-tolerant red and black mangroves and button wood along the route, a straight, wide path of limestone spoil from an adjacent canal.
  • Loop through dense woodland along the Pa-hay-okee Trail, a boardwalk leading to an observation point that overlooks the River of Grass. Nearby Mahogany Hammock Trail also has a boardwalk to explore big tropical trees—watch and listen closely for colorful finches and warblers flitting through the tangled undergrowth.
  • Trace remnants of an old paved road and view the open coastal prairie as you approach tropical forest framed by mahogany, gumbo-limbo, cabbage palm, and bromeliads (air plants), which cling to silent buttonwoods. The 2.8-mile one-way Rowdy Bend Trail showcases the coastal prairie.

Hiking in the Everglades is surprisingly good, with a fair range of trail options. None that you would call strenuous, unless you want to pack granite blocks and run—just barely perceptible rises. The long Pine Tree Trail is a good first choice for those wanting to be out for a couple of days.

The trails and trailheads are concentrated around three visitor centers: Flamingo, Long Pine Key, and Shark Valley. There are no hiking trails at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, although nearby areas such as Fakahatchee State Preserve and Big Cypress National Preserve offer trails.

Oh, and another tip—you can leave your ice equipment at home.

Trail Descriptions
Long Pine Key Area Trails
Shark Valley Trails
Flamingo Area Trails


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