One of the best ways to experience the Florida Everglades National Park is by hiking the beautiful trails. You'll get the chance to see lots of diverse animal and plant life, including birds, American crocodiles, Florida panthers, mangroves, air plants, and more.
Planning to Visit the Everglades?
Save time when you buy your Everglades tickets online before visiting. Available passes include Vehicle, Pedestrian, Motorcycle, and Annual Passes. Passes are delivered instantly to your mobile phone, and give you immediate access to the park at any entrance.
Things to Know Before You Go:
There are four entrances and visitor centers where you can get maps and other information when you arrive:
Gulf Coast Visitor Center
- 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City, Florida 34139
- Ten Thousand Islands, a maze of mangrove islands and waterways that extends to Flamingo and Florida Bay
- Beginning of the 99-mile long Wilderness Waterway Trail
- Educational displays and films, informational brochures, and backcountry permits for camping
- Boat tours and canoe rentals available
- There are no hiking trails at the Visitor Center but there are popular trails nearby at the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve and Big Cypress National Preserve
Shark Valley Visitor Center
- 36000 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33194
- Educational displays and video and informational brochures
- Guided tram tours and bike rentals
- Two short walking trails
Ernest Coe Visitor Center
- 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
- Educational displays and videos and informational brochures
- Series of trails called Pine Island Trails begin a short drive from the visitor center
Flamingo Visitor Center
- 1 Flamingo Lodge Highway, FL 33034
- Educational displays and films, informational brochures, and backcountry permits for camping (lobby open 24-hours for self-registration during the summer season)
- Campground facilities, series of hiking and canoeing trails located near the visitor center
- Houseboat, canoe, kayak, and bike rentals available
- Boat tours available
There are different things to see in each area of the park. The best Everglades Trails are the ones maintained and monitored by the National Park Services. Going off trail can be dangerous and it is intended for you to stay on the trails themselves. It is against the law to go into the thick brush, particularly because you could disturb some of the different endangered species that are found throughout this area of South Florida.
Trails Throughout the ParkChoose which area(s) of the Everglades you want to explore and then decide which hikes you want to do. There are tons of hiking trails throughout the Everglades with varying levels of difficulties. Be realistic as to how far you want to hike and how long you want to be out on the trails when you're planning your trip and always carry a map!
Gulf Coast Trails
Boating: Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands, a popular boating destination and the beginning of the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway Trail (8 days recommended to complete the trail). Boaters can see birds, dolphins, manatees, and other wildlife as they navigate through the mangroves. For shorter paddling trips, canoers and kayakers can check outthe Ten Thousand Islands by way of Halfway Creek, Turner River, and over to Sandfly Island. Hiking: Head to nearby Fakahatchee Strand Preserve or Big Cypress National Preserve for hiking trails. Fakahatchee Strand Hiking Nature Trail is a nice and easy boardwalk hike through the swamplands at Big Cypress Bend. Other trail heads in the area are located at East Main Tram (gate 12), West Main Tram (gate 7), and Uplands Hiking Trail.
Pine Island Trails (closest Visitor Center is Ernest Coe)
Pine Island offers both hiking and biking trails, comprised primarily of limestone bedrock. Throughout the area, you'll see slash pines and over 200 species of subtropical plants. There have been multiple sightings of the Florida panther here, and you will see plenty of birds along the way as well. Popular Trails from Pine Island:
- Anhinga Trail: 0.8 miles round trip self-guided trail through sawgrass marsh. Visitors might see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and lots of other birds.
- Gumbo Limbo Trail: 0.4 miles round trip self-guiding trail through jungle-like scenery with royal palms, ferns, and air plants.
- Long Pine Key Trails (allows bikes): series of trails with over 22 miles of connecting trails. Most of the trails start at the Long Pine Key Campground, 7-miles from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center.
- Pineland Trail: 0.4-miles round trip through a forest of pines, palmettos, and wildflowers.
- Pahayokee Overlook: 0.16 miles round trip boardwalk loop with views of the "river of grass."
- Mahogany Hammock Trail: 0.5 miles round trip through jungle-like woods with gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree in the US.
- Old Ingraham Highway (allows bikes): 22 miles round trip along an old motor highway that connected Pine Island to Flamingo
You can download a map before you get to the Everglades Park or you can choose to stop into the visitor center. Note: These trails should be avoided during the summer months because of the mud and the level of mosquitoes.
At Flamingo, you will have access to lots of popular Everglades hiking trails. Trails vary in length and each offer opportunities to see different wildlife. Some are a single trail, which means you will go up and then come back down the same way you came, while others are a loop. Trails from Flamingo:
- West Lake Trail: 1/2 miles loop through white, black, and red mangrove forests to the edge of West Lake.
- Snake Bight (bikes allowed): 1.8 miles one way through topical trees and species with excellent bird watching at the end of the trail, particularly around high tide.
- Rowdy Bend (bikes allowed): 2.6 miles one way through shady buttonwoods and an open coastal prairie.
- Christian Point: 1.6 miles one way through dense mangroves and buttonwoods to the shore of Snake Bight. Best viewed around high tide.
- Bear Lake (bikes and paddling allowed): 1.6 miles one way following the old Homestead Canal to Bear Lake.
- Eco Pond: ½ mile loop where you can see wading birds, shorebirds, and occasionally crocodiles.
- Guy Bradley: 1 mile of trails with views of the Florida Bay.
- Bayshore Loop: 2 mile loop along the shore of Florida Bay with remnants of an outpost fishing village.
- Coastal Prairie: 6 miles one way along a road once used by cotton pickers and fisherman.
Each trail has something unique to offer and you can download a map before you go or ask for one when you get to the Visitor Center. The trail conditions can be rough so you'll want to read about each trail before going and be sure you have everything you might need with you. Remember, you want to ask a ranger if you are not sure about anything. Note: Be aware that there are a few different hiking trails that are not maintained due to plants and wildlife on the endangered list. Because of this, the paths may be overgrown with vines and vegetation which make it difficult and sometimes dangerous to hike. These trails include: Snake Bight, Rowdy Bend, Christian Point, and Bear Lake. If you want to know more about the conditions of the path, talk to a ranger by going into a Visitor Center.
Shark Valley TrailsShark Valley is one of the most popular spots in the Everglades to explore. Located right in heart of the Everglades, guests can see true rivers of grass and tons of wildlife, including alligators, herons, egrets, deer, turtles, snail kites, and more. The parking lot at Shark Valley closes at 6:00 pm, so be sure to plan accordingly. Trails from Shark Valley:
- Bobcat Boardwalk: 0.5 miles one way along a boardwalk path through the sawgrass slough and tropical forests.
- Otter Cave Hammock Trail: 0.25 miles one way along a limestone trail through topical forests.
- Tram Road (bikes allowed): 15 miles round trip along a flat, paved road with an observation tower around the halfway point. Most bicyclists take two to three hours to complete the bike trail.
Non-Hiking TrailsIn addition to hiking trails, the Everglades also have trails for biking and boating which allows you to see the Everglades from a different perspective. Biking permits: If you bike in a group of 20 or more, a Special Use Permit must be obtained from a park ranger ahead of time. Any who want to bike after hours also requires a permit. Boating: Visitors can explore the Everglades by boat, kayak, or canoe at Florida Bay, Whitewater Bay, and the Ten Thousand Islands. When attempting any of the water trails, you will want to make sure that you have novel charts and check in with one of the visitor centers. At the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, you can access the Ten Thousand Islands were you'll get a chance to see see dolphins, manatees, birds, and other wildlife. This is where the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway Trail begins. If you choose to paddle it, you should plan on taking at least eight days complete your trip. Hell’s Bay is where you will find a fun canoe trail. This is a sheltered route where you can go through ponds, small bays, and more. There are several backcountry chickees for camping, just be sure to get a permit ahead of time. Allow about 6-8 hours to paddle the entire trail and back. Between February and May, some of the water levels may be too low that you won’t be able to take the trail, so it’s best to check with a ranger. More experienced boaters can explore Whitewater Bay, a large, open body of water area with strong winds and lots of mangroves which can make navigating the area a challenge. Whenever you go on a canoe trail, know that winds and tides can affect the trip. If it has rained significantly in the past few days, there may be a lot of mud to hike through in order to get to the shoreline. Similarly, if it hasn’t rained much, there may not be enough water to cover the mangroves and therefore it may not be possible for you to canoe through the entire trail.
What You Need Before Hitting a Trail
You’re in Florida, which means that the temperature is almost always hot. Depending upon when you visit, it may also be humid, rainy, or a combination of both. As the saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather, give it five minutes.” Pack a backpack with the following supplies:
- Bottles of water
- First aid kit
- Bug spray
- Trail mix or other snacks
Be sure to pack accordingly for whether you are taking a hiking trail, a biking trail, or a canoe trail. It’s best to wear long pants, long sleeves, and closed shoes at all times as well because of the number of mosquitoes. It is also recommended that you bring mosquito repellent. If you are hitting a trail in anticipation of camping, be sure you know what camp site you are headed to and that there is space for you. There are dozens of campsites that are considered back country and some tend to fill up quickly, especially during high season. No tents or other camping supplies are available for rent or purchase in the park, so you will want to have all of your camping essentials with you before you start on the hike or paddle.
Buy Everglades National Park Passes
Remember, you can get immediate access to the Everglades National Park when you buy your Everglades tickets online. Available passes include Vehicle, Pedestrian, Motorcycle, and Annual Passes. Passes are delivered instantly to your mobile phone, and give you immediate access to the park at any entrance.