Big Cypress National Preserve | HIKING


There are very few traditional hiking trails in Big Cypress National Preserve. Most are what are known as Primary Trails: dirt roads that run through the backcountry and are open to vehicles, bikers, and hikers. There are over two hundred miles of such trails. In the wet season (summer) the Primary Trails are mainly used by swamp buggies and ATVs, but hikers are welcome to trudge through the swamp waters if so inclined (biking would not be possible). Once the roads dry out in the winter anyone can travel on them, though they may still be muddy. For more information, see the Backcountry web page.

Only five trails are for hikers only, and three of these are former backcountry roads. I hiked all or part of every one of these trails. All hikes were done in February during the height of the dry season (November through April). During the wet season most of the trails will be underwater, maybe knee to waist deep.

Florida Trail

Fire Prairie Trail

Deep Lake Trail

Gator Hook Trail

Tree Snail Hammock Trail

All trails, regardless of type, are located in the undeveloped backcountry, and a permit is required to enter. These are free and can be obtained at kiosks at trailheads, boat ramps, backcountry access roads, hunter check-in stations, and the visitor centers. All you need is a pen or pencil to fill out the multi-copy form on which you provide your entry date and time, your estimated return time, and the purpose of your adventure (i.e. hike, camp, hunt). Keep one copy with you, stick one in the permit collection box at the kiosk, and place one on the dashboard of your car (all backcountry access areas have parking lots or allow roadside parking). Permits help the National Park Service track which areas are used the most, plus if your car is left overnight the park Rangers will know when you were supposed to have returned, and if this time has long since passed, they know to come looking for you.

You can also download the Backcountry-Permit (PDF) and either fill it out by hand or by using Adobe Acrobat (or an Acrobat browser plug-in). The PDF has two permits, and if you use Acrobat, the second permit fills out automatically as you type information into the first permit. You need three permits, so be sure to print two copies of the PDF and then use scissors to separate the copies.

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Last updated on February 21, 2021
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