The Everglades National Park has over 350 miles of hiking trails, ranging from short and easy to long and difficult, so you’re sure to find the perfect one to hike with friends or family on your next trip. So where should you go? Here are the top six Everglades National Park hiking trails that everyone should see at least once. You’ll want to wear sturdy shoes, bring plenty of water and stay safe when hiking these trails, so make sure you do so safely at all times.
Shark Valley Loop Trail
The Shark Valley Loop Trail is one of the most popular trails in Everglades National Park. More than a dozen miles of boardwalk take you through sawgrass prairies, cypress swamps, and tropical hardwood hammocks teeming with wildlife. The loop’s paved surface means it’s great for strollers, wheelchairs, and other mobility aids; it’s also wheelchair accessible year-round. The best time to visit is between November and April when frequent rains fill up ponds that attract alligators. In May or June, fireflies fill up prairies at night. If you’re lucky, you may even see a mother alligator with her babies basking in the sun on a warm afternoon during these months.
The Anhinga Trail offers an easy half-mile loop and is a great place to start if you’re visiting with young children or aren’t a particularly avid hiker. The trail takes you along the freshwater marsh, through lush vegetation, and ends at a picnic area with
plenty of benches. In addition to boardwalks that help keep you dry as you walk along Florida Bay, there are observation platforms on both sides of Marsh Island to help you get even closer to birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. Depending on when your visit falls, it’s also possible to spot alligators peeking out from behind bushes or bask in the sight of numerous turtles swimming in Florida Bay.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Trail
This is a popular trail in Everglades National Park that offers wonderful views of evergreen forests and beautiful red mangroves. The terrain of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Trail is not too difficult, with a small incline at times. Overall, it is an easy trail with little elevation change and will take approximately one hour to complete. Along your walk, you can also spot alligators and wading birds. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some Eastern Indigo Snakes! Dogs are allowed on Gumbo Limbo Nature Trail on a leash. No food or drink is permitted on park trails. Make sure to bring plenty of water with you!
River of Grass Trail
South Florida is home to an incredible, diverse collection of flora and fauna. As part of a project sponsored by Audubon Florida, several organizations developed The River of Grass Trail to provide a unique look at South Florida’s ecology. At 42 miles long and located in Everglades National Park, The River of Grass Trail crosses through 4 different ecosystems that are unique to South Florida. As you travel from west to east along The River of Grass Trail, you will see different water views including brackish estuaries, mangrove forests, and sawgrass prairies. There are no services provided along The River of Grass Trail, so be sure to pack enough food and water for your trip if you plan on spending more than a day exploring it!
The Pineland Trail is a 13.4-mile loop that circumnavigates Long Pine Key, an island of sawgrass in Alligator Bayou, south of mainland Florida. Three primitive campsites with no facilities are available; two are on Long Pine Key and one is on Dog Island. The trail winds through the dense coastal hammock and pine Rockland forest that harbors a variety of plants and animals, including gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and snowy egrets. There are several observation platforms along the route where you can rest or get a different perspective of Alligator Bayou.
Chokoloskee Island Loop Trail
This moderately difficult trail is a great way to get out and see some wildlife, but it also gives you a great view of the undeveloped wilderness. It’s relatively flat, so it’s very easy for anyone to do, but there are some steep drop-offs and narrow boardwalks that might make hiking off-limits for those with mobility issues. This is about as good as it gets for scenery in South Florida, though; you should easily be able to spot both alligators and alligator nests along your hike.
Leave your comment on which one is your favorite among all of the everglades national park hiking trails. Take only photos and leave only footprints, enjoy hiking!