Welcome to the Big Cypress National Preserve Travel Planner. Here you'll find everything you need to plan your Big Cypress visit including directions, maps, photos, nearby lodging, camping, things to do, weather, and more. I hope you'll enjoy a visit to Big Cypress in the near future.
If you plan to go you should look up the number to the oasis welcoming center and ask about the trail conditions, I saw a gator close by the Oasis Ranger station. The hike wasn't as tough as I thought it would be, but it was changeling. I wore a old pair of hiking boots, after they dried out they stank of the swamp I need to rinse and clean them good. I would not recommend wearing sandals or any shoes with "openings". The trail was mostly wet. The water was ankle to kneedeep and there was plenty of dry areas to stop and rest. The trail is rough and rocky under the water, bring a walking stick or trekking pole. I used a hickory walking stick with a rubber stopper on the end and it worked great. I didn't fall any but I slipped alot. (That night when I layed down to sleep I still have the feeling that I was constantly slipping) On the map you'll see a trail that runs along side the Florida trail, This is a gravel road and at one point its close to the trail and there was a trail to cross over to the road (it's literally a stone throw away) This could be used as a better route back to the welcoming center at the end of a day hike. There's 24 hour access so you can plan to watch the sunset in the swamps or even began your hike before the sun rises. You do need a permit to hike there, This means filling out a 2 forms (duplicates) at the welcoming center you leave one with the ranger and take one with you. If the welcoming center is closed there's a stand with forms outside near a rock that marks the southern terminus of the trail (see my photos)
This is a canoe track in the Big Cypress Swamp. Gets you up close to the plant and animal life in the swamp. Bring lots of bug protective stuff, you will be bitten. It starts in a deep man-made channel (where most the alligators are), then to more shallow off-shoots where the mangrove turns to grass fields, then finally a very shallow area less than 1 foot deep until it dead ends (no outlet). There is some mangrove tunnel like effects. Go slow and enjoy. If you really want to see a lot of alligators, go at night and bring your flash light. Stay 15 feet away from alligators.
My 2nd track uses the same deep channel, but goes to a lake, then some mangrove smaller channels. You could combine the two of course.
We did this Trail 2 years ago starting at Alligator Alley and heading south to Oasis. The first 3 days were nothing but mud and water. My shoes came apart about 1 hour in and I took them off and did the first half of the trip barefoot.
The trail was easy enough to follow. The terrain is mostly flat but with lots of water. The deepest we encountered was mid thigh. It was our plan to make it a 4 day trip but it took 4 1/2. We use hammocks and it was the way to go.
We only took enough water to make it to the second afternoon. Just filtered water the rest. If going take something to make the water taste better. After a couple days it gets real old tasting the earthy flavor.
The northern half is mostly water and mud the southern half is pine land and open prairie. If you are looking for solitude this is the place to be. We saw two other hikers and a couple guys out on a swampbuggy and that was it until the final half mile before Oasis.
This was not an easy trip but was very rewarding. I would recommend this hike to anyone looking for some adventure. If the whole length sounds like to much, hike in from Oasis and go to 7 mile camp. Set in an area on the edge of the pines with a nice view of the cypress in front of you.
You could also do the north end from Alligator Alley south to Ivy Camp, but the southern end is a much more pleasant hike.
All in all a good time just think about whether you really need everything you carry. We found quite a bit of stuff left behind both at the campsites and just along the trail. Thing people couldn't leave at home but decided they didn't need three days in .
We hiked in Big Cypress the area north of I-75 on the FNST Florida National Scenic Trail. We traveled North to the Red Trail approximately 2.5 miles and headed NE to merge with the Blue Trail and "Carpenter Camp" a primitive campsite. The hike was wet, some areas the water reached our knees, but for solitude, peace and wildlife viewing its the best. I suggest the winter months, less water, less Mosquitos, and less heat. The round trip loop approximately 7.5 miles.
I have two articles I wrote for the Miami Herald on this section of the trail on my blog:
I hope you enjoy them!
I've hiked sections of this trail many times. There is copious wildlife found along the trail, with plant life changing with subtle changes in elevation. This is Florida Panther country, and though I've never seen one, I've often seen their tracks on the trail. Depending on the time of year and weather the trail can be anything from dry to muddy to knee deep in water, with muddy and wet being the most common conditions. The section from I75 north is dry year-round as it runs along an old dirt road. If you're interested in hiking in Florida check out the Florida Trail Association. They have chapters in many counties with monthly meetings and many group hikes.
The loop road is 22 miles from the first entrance to the second entrance of the tamiami trail. If you plan to do this trail you should have two cars ( one on each entrance since they are 20 miles apart ). You can choose to go back the 22 miles of dirts road again or the 20 miles of paved tamiami trail back to your car.
I never done by bike but want to go. I have only done by car about 5 times