Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the lower 48 United States (after Death Valley and Yellowstone) and the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. About 30 hiking trails provide access to this unique ecosystem.

The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, and the first national park gazetted specifically to protect a highly endangered ecosystem. It’s a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected area under the Cartagena Treaty. A number of hiking (and kayaking) trails provide access to this unique ecosystem – but as soon as you leave the paved trails and boardwalks, the hiking can get very muddy and unappealing.

Main Park Road

Starting near Florida City at the eastern end of Everglades National Park, the Main Park Road (State Highway 9336) provides access to the majority of hiking trails. Next to the entrance station is the Edward F Coe Visitor Center, and at the end of the road is the Flamingo Visitor Center, a campground and a general store as well as boat tours and a lodge. Just off Main Park Road is Royal Palm, which has ranger-led activities in winter.

There are a number of short hikes on paved trails along Main Park Road, with most of the longer and more challenging walks near Flamingo. You can also rent kayaks from Flamingo.

Pahayokee OverlookEasy0.2 miles / 0.3kmRaised boardwalk with great views of the “river of grass.”
Pinelands TrailEasy0.4 miles / 0.6kmLoops through forest of pines, palmettos, and wildflowers.Map
Gumbo Limbo TrailEasy0.5 miles / 0.8km loop Easy trail through shaded tropical forestMap
Mahogany Hammock TrailEasy0.5 miles / 0.8km loop Boardwalk through a dense, jungle-like hardwook “hammock”Map
West Lake TrailEasy0.5 miles / 0.8km partial loop Boardwalk over water through a forest of mangroves Map
Three-in-One TrailEasy0.8 miles / 1.2km loopVaried terrain from open glade to closed forestMap
Anhinga TrailEasy0.8 miles / 1.2km loopPaved trail & boardwalk through sawgrass marshMap
Guy Bradley TrailEasy1 miles / 1.6kmPaved path along shore from Flamingo Visitor CenterMap
Bayshore Loop TrailModerate2 miles / 3.2km loopUnmaintained trail along Florida Bay shoreMap
Snake Bight TrailEasy3.2 miles / 5.4kmBiking & hiking trail through coastal prairie & marlMap
Christian Point TrailHard4 miles / 6.4kmRough trail through mangroves & open coastal prairieMap
Rowdy Bend TrailModerate8.2kmOld road through coastal prairie; often wet & muddyMap
Bear Lake TrailEasy5.6km / 9 milesTrail along old Homestead Canal to Bear LakeMap
Long Pine Key TrailEasy7 miles / 11km one-wayWide trail through shrubby pineland forestMap
Coastal Prairie TrailModerate12.4 miles / 20kmRough trail through open prairies to Clubhouse BeachMap

Pahayokee Overlook

It’s well worth a stop to do this short but scenic walk along a raised boardwalk, which passes through a hardwood hammock before offering sweeping views of the the “river of grass” freshwater prairie that the Everglades is known for (Pa-Hay-Okee is the Seminole word for the Shark River Slough). An observation deck near the middle has signage explaining how the shallow but wide Shark River Slough slowly flows towards the Gulf, like a sheet of water.

Length: 0.2 miles / 0.3km loop (10-15min)
Grade: Easy (boardwalk, wheelchair-accessible
When: All year

Pinelands Trail

This easy, paved hiking trail loops through one of the most varied habitats in the Everglades. The pine rocklands is one of the rarest remaining habitats in Florida, and the shaded forest includes pines, palmettos, and wildflowers.

Length: 0.4 miles / 0.6km loop (15-20min)
Grade: Easy (paved trail, wheelchair-accessible but uneven in a few places)
When: All year

Gumbo Limbo Trail

One of two trails starting at the Royal Palm Visitor Center on the eastern side of the Everglades, the Gumbo Limbo Trail goes through a tropical hardwood hammock (a shady tropical forest). There are many interpretative signs along the paved trail, pointing out some of the trees, air plants such as bromeliads and natural features. The trail is named after the Gumbo-Limbo tree, a large semi-evergreen tree which has peeling red bark; it had cooking and medicinal uses for the native Americans.

Length: 0.5 miles / 0.8km loop (15-20min)
Grade: Easy (paved trail, wheelchair-accessible)
When: All year

Mahogany Hammock Trail

One of the best short Everglades walks, the Mahogany Hammock Trail crosses freshwater marl prairie before entering a dense jungle-like hardwood hammock which is on a tree island. Spared from logging, the trees include the largest living mahogany tree (Swietenia mahogani) in the United States as well as gumbo-limbo trees and air plants.

Length: 0.5 miles / 0.8km loop (15-20min)
Grade: Easy (paved trail, wheelchair-accessible)
When: All year

West Lake Trail

A boardwalk trail that enters a forest of white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), black mangrove (Avicennia nitida), red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) trees at the edge of West Lake.

Length: 0.5 miles / 0.8km loop (15-20min)
Grade: Easy (level boardwalk, wheelchair-accessible)
When: All year

Three-in-One Trail

The Three-in-One Trail gets its name from the fact it traverses three habitats: pinelands, a hardwood hammock, and the glades. As a result, part of the walk is through shaded forest, and part through the more open glades, which can get wet and muddy.

You can extend the loop by continuing around Long Pine Key Lake, which is a pleasant walk. The “key” is the island in the middle of the lake.

Length: 0.8 miles / 1.2km return (20-45min). 1.3mi / 2km including a loop around the lake
Grade: Easy
When: Dec-April best when trail is driest

Anhinga Trail

Very different from the nearby Gumbo Limbo Trail, the Anhinga Trail is one of the most popular and highly rated hikes in the Everglades. A raised boardwalk takes you through (or over!) a sawgrass marsh, where you may see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and many other birds – especially during the winter months.

Length: 0.8 miles / 1.2km return (20-45min)
Grade: Easy (paved trail & boardwalk, wheelchair-accessible)
When: All year; winter best for wildlife

Bayshore Loop Trail

Incorporating part of the Coastal Prairie Trail – which goes through open prairies – this trail loops back via the shore of Florida Bay and past the remnants of an outpost fishing village. The trail is unmaintained, and for most of the year the section through the prairie will be very muddy or underwater, while the section along the bay is full of angry mosquitoes!

Long Pine Key Trail

The Long Pine Key Trail runs between Long Pine Key Lake to Pine Glades Lake, through shrubby pineland forest. The wide trail is better done on a bike than by foot, and preferably one-way if it can be arranged – it’s not a particularly interesting walk as the scenery doesn’t change much. There’s also not a lot of shade.

Length: 7 miles / 11km one-way (2-3 hours)
Grade: Easy (wide & level trail)
When: All year; winter best as trail fairly exposed

Coastal Prairie Trail

Follows the route of an old road once used by cotton pickers and fishermen, which traverses open prairies of low coastal shrubs and the occasional shady buttonwood before reaching Clubhouse Beach on Florida Bay (where there is a campsite – permit required). The trail condition will vary, and is often under a foot or more of water.

Length: 12.4 miles / 20km return (4-6 hours)
Grade: Moderate (partly overgrown trail, which may be muddy or underwater)
When: Dec-March during dry period

Trailhead distances

The distances below are from the main park entrance and Ernest Coe Visitor Center to the starting point for each of the trails.

3.3 mile / 5.3km Gumbo Limbo Trail & Anhinga Trail (via Royal Palm Road)
5.4 mile / 8.7km 3-in-1n Trail & Long Pine Key Trail (via Long Pine Key Road)
 7 miles / 11km  Pinelands Trail
13 miles / 24km  Pahayokee Overlook
20 miles / 32km  Mahogany Hammock Trail
30 miles / 49km  West Lake Trail
32 miles / 52km  Snake Bight Trail
35 miles / 56km  Rowdy Bend Trail
36 miles / 58km  Christian Point Trail
38 miles / 61km  Guy Bradley Trail
39 miles / 62km  Bear Lake Trail (via Bear Lake Road)
39 miles / 63km  Bayshore Loop Trail & Coastal Prairie Trail

Gulf Coast & Shark Valley

The Shark Valley section at the northern end of the park has only two short trails, and a much longer trail more suited to cycling (you can rent a bicycle). You can also do tram tours and airboat tours from here.

Otter Cave Hammock TrailEasy0.3 miles / 0.5kmRough limestone trail through a tropical hardwood forestMap
Bobcat Boardwalk TrailEasy0.4 miles / 0.6kmBoardwalk through sawgrass slough and tropical hardwood forestMap
Shark Valley Tram TrailEasy23.7 miles / 38.1kmFlat paved loop trail to Shark Valley Observation TowerMap

At the north-western end of the Everglades is the Gulf Coast, where there is also a Visitor Center and ranger-guided tours. There are no hiking trails here, but it’s a good base for boat tours. It’s also great for kayaking (you can rent kayaks here) from short paddles to the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway (allow 8 days and experienced paddlers only) and the 120-mile Everglades Paddling Trail (which connects Flamingo area and the Gulf Coast). 

Vegetation in the Everglades

Only a few feet of elevation can mean the difference between a wet prairie with grasses and tall forest – the maximum elevation in the Everglades is 8 feet (2.4m).

Some of the common vegetation types encountered on hiking trails include:

  • Freshwater slough – a body of slow moving water or shallow river (there are two in the Everglades; Shark River Slough found in the Shark Valley and Taylor Slough near Royal Palm)
  • Freshwater marl prairie – a wetland similar to a freshwater slough, but the water dissipates mainly by seeping into the ground (they are like marshes)
  • Coastal prairie – formed by the inland movement of mud during strong storms and hurricanes. these are located between the dry land and tidal mud flats of the Florida Bay
  • Hammock – an area with a slightly higher elevation than the wet areas surrounding it, allowing hardwood trees, pines, and other vegetation to grow. 

Accommodation near the Everglades

You can stay within the Everglades National Park at Flamingo, which offers the most convenient access to many of the hiking trails – there’s a lodge as well as houseboats and a campground. Just outside the park entrance on the eastern side are the towns of Homestead and Florida City, which both offer accommodation.


On the northern side of the park are a number of resorts and self-contained accommodation, which are a good base for canoe trips and tours.

When to visit the Everglades

There are effectively two seasons in the Everglades: the Wet Season which starts around the middle of May and continues through to November, and the Dry Season which is from December to April. The temperature and humidity are also lower during the winter months, and there are less mosquitoes. So it’s not surprising that the Dry Season is the most popular time to visit – and for any of the longer hikes (that are not on a paved trail or boardwalk), the best time is from January to March when the trails will be a lot less muddy and mosquitoe-ridden.

Getting to the Everglades hiking trails

The Everglades is about 60 miles (1:15min) south of Miami, which is the closest city and airport. To reach the Flamingo area, follow the Florida Turnpike south until it merges with US-1 and turn right onto Palm Drive, following the signs to the park.

To reach the Shark Valley Visitor Center, take exit 25 from the Florida Turnpike to Highway 41 (the Tamiami Trail for 25 miles.

More information

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