Best Hiking and Biking Trails in the Everglades
Though the Everglades are mostly marshy and, well, underwater, there are many areas of the park that can be explored by hiking or biking. From short mile-long (1.6 km) hikes to longer excursions, hiking and cycling allows you to explore the diverse habitats within south Florida. Each visitor center, which acts as an entrance to various parts of the park, has trails of varying lengths and several offer bicycle rentals. Here are some of the best trails in the Everglades, organized by starting location.
Shark Valley The Shark Valley Trail is a 15 mile (24 km) round trip paved trail that is great for hiking and bicycling. As this is also the tram trail, be aware of other people and the tram that utilizes this path. There are no hills, but cycling the trail will take between two and three hours as there is a lot of wildlife to see and flora to observe. For shorter jaunts, the quarter-mile Bobcat Boardwalk, which loops through sawgrass prairie and a bayheads (small, shrubby islands), is a scenic stroll; the mile long round-trip to Otter Cave takes walkers through a subtropical hardwood hammock. The Shark Valley Trail is the most convenient for those traveling from Miami.
Flamingo Visitor Center Cyclists will enjoy the 22 mile (35.4 km) route of Old Ingraham Highway, which features mangrove, sawgrass and birds, including hawks. Hikers can choose from a variety of hikes ranging from a half mile loop to Eco Pond to the 12 mile-round trip (19.3 km) Coastal Prairie trail, which was once used by fishermen and cotton pickers.
Big Cypress Preserve For hikers, Big Cypress is perhaps the best destination as you can choose to wander designated trails or strike out on your own through unmarked acreage. Fair warning though—as conditions very greatly by season, there’s a good possibility you could end up wading through waist-deep waters. Tackling the Florida National Scenic Trial is another worthy goal: trailheads are located at Loop Road off U.S. 41 and Alligator Alley at mile marker 63.
Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Near Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, Long Pine Key's 14 mile (22.5 km) nature trail is a pleasant and shady pinewood (a respite from the Florida heat) with subtropical plants and exposed limestone bedrock, excellent for both cyclists or hikers looking for a longer trek.
Royal Palm Visitor Center Royal Palm Visitor Center is the starting point for two of the most popular trails in the Everglades: the Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail. Though short in distance, these two walking trails are perhaps the most scenic in the park, with expansive views and excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing.