Big Cypress National Preserve | FIRE PRAIRIE TRAIL

Fire Prairie Trail

Fire Prairie Trail


See the Hiking web page for an interactive location map and information on required backcountry permits.

This hike was done during the dry season (winter). During the summer the area will be underwater.


Length: 5.2 miles, round trip
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead for the Fire Prairie Trail

Trailhead for the Fire Prairie Trail

The Fire Prairie Trail at Big Cypress National Preserve is open to both hikers and bikers. It is located on Turner River Road about fifteen miles from Highway 41. A small parking area is at the trailhead. Turner River Road is a very dusty, dirt road accessible to all vehicles, but I do not recommend driving on it if you have a convertible, for the dust will infiltrate the interior. Any vehicle that drives on this road will need a car wash.

The Fire Prairie Trail enters into the grasslands of the Deep Lake Backcountry Unit of the Big Cypress National Preserve. Like most hiking trails in Big Cypress, this is an old, dirt road. Not wanting to do any more damage to the environment than had already been done by the swamp buggies and ATVs that traversed the land before the park was established, existing roads simply became the park trails.

The trail starts off in the forest and runs along a canal. Everything is flat and the surface is smooth, so anyone who can walk five miles can hike this trail. No hiking poles or hiking boots are required when the trail is dry. I suggest walking in the established tire tracks because in the middle area are some massive fire ant hills that are hard to spot due to the grass.

Terrain at the start of the Fire Prairie Trail

Terrain at the start of the Fire Prairie Trail

The prairie starts at the .75-mile mark on the hike. For the rest of the way you will be exposed to the sun, so wear a hat and use sunscreen if preventing sun damage is a concern to you. Pine trees can be seen in the distance and these trees are slowly taking over the prairie. I was told by a guy who grew up in Big Cypress that the area was even more open when he was a kid. It was prairie as far as he could see.

Prairie and a palmetto bush thicket

Prairie and a palmetto bush thicket

If your goal is simply to see the prairie, you might as well turn around once you get to it because the scenery isn’t going to change for the remainder of the hike—nearly two miles, one way. Continue only if you are out for exercise or just enjoy hiking in nature.

You know that you are at the end of the trail when the tire tracks of the road disappear. Why the road ends at this point, who knows. Maybe this used to be a person’s house. There is nothing to prevent you from hiking further if you wish—hikers can go anywhere they would like within the park. If you have had enough, turn around and head back to the car.

End of the Fire Prairie Trail

End of the Fire Prairie Trail

While I did see three deer on the trip, there’s really not much to recommend here. A much better hike can be done on a section of the Florida Trail that I hiked north of I-75. You will see prairie and forest and many more animals, including alligators. On top of that, it’s a loop hike so you won’t see the same things twice. The Fire Prairie Trail makes more sense if you have a bike.

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Last updated on December 10, 2019
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