Everglades National Park | ROWDY BEND TRAIL

Rowdy Bend Trail Map

Rowdy Bend Trail Map

See the Hiking web page for an interactive location map.

NOTE: The National Park Service no longer maintains the Rowdy Bend 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: 2.75 miles, one-way
Time: 40 mintues on bike, 1.5 hours on foot
Difficulty: easy

The Rowdy Bend Trail at Everglades National Park is a 2.75-mile out-and-back trail that dead ends into the Snake Bight Trail. Using Main Park Road and the two trails, an 8-mile loop hike can be formed. Both trails are open to off-road bikes—road bikes will not be able to make it. I opted to do the loop (on bike), though this review will focus only on the Rowdy Bend portion of the route.

No matter what time of year, mosquitoes flourish in the Flamingo area. Here on the Rowdy Bend Trail they are thick even in late February, which I assume makes such a hike unbearable during the summer months. The trail is also narrow and surrounded by vegetation, a favorite place for ticks to hide and poison ivy to grow (if it grows here, I do not know). You will be brushing up against it constantly. Thus, due to the mosquitoes, ticks, and threat of poison ivy and other rash-producing plants, plus to avoid getting sliced up by branches and briers, I advise 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. Clothing is the only real protection. You may be sweating and look like a goof in a Hazmat suit, but you will never pass another hiker on this trail who doesn’t comment on how he wished he had the same get-up. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, if you are the first one on the trail in the morning, expect to run into spider webs every ten feet or so.

Interesting spider web

Interesting spider web

The Rowdy Bend Trail starts off on a road, but that’s not the real trail. This just leads down to where the hiking portion starts. The road is not open to vehicles.

Road that leads down to the Rowdy Bend Hiking trail

Road that leads down to the Rowdy Bend Hiking trail

Start of the Rowdy Bend Trail

Start of the Rowdy Bend Trail

The first mile follows a very narrow trail. It is impossible to avoid the vegetation, so check yourself for ticks whenever you get a chance. At times the trail is so overgrown that I was simply plowing through brush, coming nearly to a stop as if creatures where grabbing at my legs in an attempt to slow me down…and I biked this trail before the National Park Service quit maintaining it.

Typical terrain of the forested section of the Rowdy Bend Trail

Typical terrain of the forested section of the Rowdy Bend Trail

After one mile the trail emerges into what is called a coastal prairie. Sections of the trail disappear and you must walk on the tops of shrubs, an indication that not many people hike the trail to begin with. Your long pants will come in handy because they shield your legs from getting scraped by the branches.

Trail fades into the shrubs

Trail fades into the shrubs

The scenery of the coastal prairie is beautiful and a welcome change from the forest.

Coastal prairie along the Rowdy Bend Trail

Coastal prairie along the Rowdy Bend Trail

Rowdy Bend Trail

Rowdy Bend Trail

From here on out the landscape alternates between coastal prairie and forest until the trail finally dead ends into the Snake Bight Trail. It does not come out at the start of the trail, but about a third from the end. Take a right at the intersection to travel down to Snake Bight, a small bay. If you want to do the loop, when done at the bay, follow the Snake Bight Trail all the way back to Main Park Road, then take a left to get back to the Rowdy Bend trailhead.

The Rowdy Bend Trail was not in too bad of shape when I biked it, but now that the National Park Service is no longer doing any maintenance, I would think twice about hiking it today. If you are still interested, your best bet is to ask a park Ranger at the Flamingo Visitor Center about the trail’s condition. In truth, there are no “must hike” trails in the Everglades, so you won’t miss out on much if you do something else with your time. If you do plan to tackle the Rowdy Bend Trail, then I suggest doing it on foot because it is easier to avoid the branches and other brush. The eight-mile loop hike should take no more than four hours on foot, versus 1.5 hours on a bike.

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Last updated on February 25, 2021
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