Everglades National Park | CHRISTIAN POINT TRAIL

Christian Point Trail satellite map (click to enlarge)

Christian Point Trail satellite map (click to enlarge)


See the Hiking web page for an interactive location map.

NOTE: The National Park Service no longer maintains the Christian Point Trail due to the presence of Cape Sable Thoroughwort, an endangered plant species. The trail may still be passable, but obstacles may be in the way. Ask a Ranger about trail conditions before departing. Travel at your own risk.


Length: 1.9-miles, one-way
Time: 2 hours, round trip
Difficulty: Easy

The purpose of the Christian Point Trail is to reach Snake Bight, a small bay in Everglades National Park. However, the middle section of the original trail has become overgrown and a new path has been cut by hikers, but like a road detour that just dumps you out in the middle of nowhere, the new path does not connect back to the original trail. Instead of making it to the bay, you just end up in a dead zone searching for a way to continue forward until finally giving up and heading back the way you came.

This is what happened to me. I spent a half hour wandering around looking for some sign of a trail. In fact, I wandered around so much that I lost track of the way I came in and got lost for another half hour just trying to figure how to get back. Little did I know, I had come within twenty feet of finding the original trail, but I only realized this when studying the satellite images of the area while writing this review.

Even though I now know how to get to the bay, I don’t know if I’d wish this hike on my worst enemy, for on the way you must brave hordes of mosquitoes even during the winter, trudge through shoe-sucking mud, and run the risk of getting lost long before reaching the inevitable dead end. When I reported to a park Ranger that the trail had vanished and that it was no longer possible to get to the bay, the Ranger said, “Come to think of it, the last person I know of who reached the bay did it about two years ago.” Now that the National Park Service is no longer maintaining any of the trails in the Flamingo area, I dread to think about what the Christian Point Trail has become (I did it in February 2015).

No matter what time of year, mosquitoes flourish in the Flamingo area. Here on the Christian Point Trail they are thick even in late February, which I assumes makes such a hike unbearable during the summer months. There are also portions of the trail that cut through what is known as the coastal prairie, a beautiful environment that consists mainly of a short, yellowish-green brush with very rigid stems that can tear up unprotected legs.

Narrow trail through the coastal prairie is rife with sharp stems from the brush

Narrow trail through the coastal prairie is rife with sharp stems from the brush

Sharp stems can tear up unprotected legs

Sharp stems can tear up unprotected legs

Because of the mosquitoes and sharp brush, I advise wearing long pants, long sleeve jacket (jean jacket will do), hat with mosquito net, and gloves. You can apply all the insect repellent you want, but it is not going to keep the mosquitoes off of you. I ran into three hikers on the trail who wore shorts and short sleeve shirts and were hiking in sandals and flip-flops. Not only were they covered in mosquito bites, their lower legs looked like an angry cat had gotten a hold of them. The first thing one of them said to me was, “You sure are a lot more prepared than we are.” I assume they had applied mosquito repellent. If so, their swollen skin is testament to the fact that it simply cannot ward off the number of mosquitoes that ultimately attack you. These mosquitoes don’t care about DEET; they don’t care about Permethrin; they don’t care about eucalyptus. A full suit of clothes is the only solution.

The hike starts off on a boardwalk that crosses a tannin-colored creek and then proceeds through a muddy area as it makes its way into a forest populated with Buttonwood trees. In many places, previous hikers have worn paths around the mud holes. Keep in mind that the mud you may see at this point is child’s play compared to what you are in for later on the hike.

Start of the Christian Point Trail

Start of the Christian Point Trail

Muddy section in the buttonwood forest

Muddy section in the buttonwood forest

The initial wooded area only lasts for a few minutes until you come to the coastal prairie. The trail is narrow and cuts through the sharp-stemmed brush mentioned earlier. With long pants on, you can plow right through it without a worry.

The scenery of the coastal prairie is lovely and the terrain is much drier, but unfortunately it’s back into the woods and mud before too long. Unlike earlier in the hike where you could walk around the mud holes, this section of the trail is often bounded by thick vegetation, and there is no room off to the side to walk around the mud. Also, it is in the forest where the mosquitoes are the biggest problem. You won’t see many when on the prairie and exposed to the sun.

Terrain of the coastal prairie

Terrain of the coastal prairie

Buttonwood forest

Buttonwood forest

On the way out, I passed a women who had turned around due to the trail becoming exceptionally muddy up ahead. There is no mistaking this area, which looks like a bone yard of bleached tree stumps. All that is missing is a couple of human skeletons. While the area looks as if it is covered with dried mud, the mud is still wet and it comes up to around your ankles in places. Hiking boots will survive the ordeal, but sneakers will be submerged. Again, you haven’t even come to the shoe-sucking mud—mud so deep that it can suck the shoes right off of your feet when you try to step forward!

Desert-like area is full of mud

Desert-like area is full of mud

While the whitish mud appears dry, it is still plenty wet

While the whitish mud appears dry, it is still plenty wet

Dead tree in the coastal prairie

Dead tree in the coastal prairie

Ankle-deep mud

Ankle-deep mud

At this point, it doesn’t even look like there is a trail anymore, which was another reason the woman gave up and turned around. All of this comes near the 1.25-mile mark on the hike. My advice is to follow the footprints in the mud. You may come to a dead end or two and have to backtrack a little, but when you finally find a narrow trail through the stunted brush of the prairie, you have found the continuation of the trail. From here on out you will be hiking in the coastal prairie and exposed to the sun.

Follow the footsteps of previous hikers

Follow the footsteps of previous hikers

The trail passes through some very muddy areas

The trail passes through some very muddy areas

So few people have made it this far that the shrubs have nearly closed up the trail path. It is difficult to hike through this area because of all the vine-like roots at your feet.

So few hikers reach this point that the trail is close to disappearing

So few hikers reach this point that the trail is close to disappearing

The Christian Point Trail eventually comes out into another desert-like area, and it is here that the trail comes to an end, at least when taking the route now followed by most hikers. The bay is straight ahead, but I wasn’t about to start Lewis-and-Clarking-It™ through the brush and forest.

Approaching the point where the trail dead ends

Approaching the point where the trail dead ends

The Christian Point Trail vanishes at this dead zone

The Christian Point Trail vanishes at this dead zone

The Christian Point Trail vanishes at this dead zone

The Christian Point Trail vanishes at this dead zone

I walked as far as I could to both the right and left ends of this barren area and found no sign of a trail. Only when writing this report did I study the satellite map and found that a distinct trail does exist. If you look at my GPS route below (red), you can see just how close I came to finding it. However, there is no way to see the trail from the ground (reference the above photo where the brush has nearly consumed the trail). Had I first seen the satellite images, I would have known to turn left at the barren area and to keep walking through the brush until connecting to the original trail. Without this knowledge, any reasonable person would turn around, which is what I did.

The original trail was only a short distance from where I was searching

The original trail was only a short distance from where I was searching

If you look at the satellite map you can see that the problem starts about a quarter mile earlier at the point where the new route veers away from the original. The original trail cut through the forest, and when it exits into the coastal prairie it continues seamlessly to the bay. The reason a new trail existes is because the trail through the forest is now overgrown and no longer navigable. I actually saw this trail and attempted to take it, but I couldn’t get but a few yards. Why the new trail does not reconnect with the original, I do not know. Maybe it never did. Maybe it was not planned out by the National Park Service and was instead blazed by hikers simply because it was the only logical way to go, and when everyone arrived at the barren area they just threw up their hands in frustration and turned around. Maybe nobody ever tried to go further. Maybe this is why the Ranger said that she didn’t know anyone who had made it to the bay in two years. Regardless, that’s the situation.

The new trail veers from the original

The new trail veers from the original (click to enlarge)

Take a look at the following image. If I were to have traipsed through the brush and had found the original trail, I wouldn’t have gotten too much farther because the trail again appears to come to an end. It’s easy to look at the satellite image and wonder how in the world I missed all of this, but it’s like standing at one end of a street and being blamed for not seeing a coin placed on the pavement 200 yards away.

Even if you reconnect, the trail appears to vanish once more (click to enlarge)

Even if you reconnect, the trail appears to vanish once more (click to enlarge)

My advice is to avoid the Christian Point Trail. The bugs, the mud, and not to mention that it’s hard to navigate long before you get to the dead end, simply make the hike not worth the effort. Now that the National Park Service is no longer attempting to maintain the trail it is only going to get worse.

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Last updated on December 31, 2019
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