Explore Black Rail Trail

A view of the Black Rail trail.

Black Rail trail has been reestablished after six years of closure due to a wildfire. During the efforts to contain the wildfire, the original trail was used as a fire break and widened with a plow line. Once the fire was contained, the plow line remained and held water. As a result, the trail was no longer passable, and access to a unique view in our park was unavailable. Through the efforts of park staff and volunteers, we are proud to say that once again you can hike all the way out to the salt marsh!

Black Rail trail was named for the elusive black rail bird that visitors come from all around the world hoping to view. The end of black rail trail offers your best opportunity to do so, and a bench is provided overlooking the habitat where these birds live and offers plenty to see.

The trail begins in a pine forest where you have the chance to see smaller birds, raccoons, opossums, grey fox, coyote, gopher tortoise, box turtles, otters and sometimes alligators. As you exit the pine forest, you enter an uplands hammock. Many of the same species can be found in the hammock; however, in here you will be using your ears more than your eyes as this growth is very dense. The next habitat you will pass through will be dominated by black needle rush and leather fern. At this point you will want to ensure you stay near the center of the trail - the needle rush is named for the needle-sharp point at its end. As you look across this portion of the habitat you can gain an understanding of how difficult it can be to find high and dry ground. Everywhere you spot leather fern the ground is too wet and too soft to hike. Once you clear this section you are back on solid ground and on your way to the bench. The bench represents the end of the trail and offers the only open view of the salt marsh and salt flats in the park that can be reached on foot. 

This trail benefits from constant upgrades, much like the rest of the park. An informational kiosk near the end of the trail will be updated and we will continue to make the hiking surface as smooth as possible. Currently this is considered a moderately difficult trail; bringing water is recommended. Closed-toe shoes that can get a little dirty are recommended as well. 

The trail is located at the west end of State Road 52. The trail entrance is down the fire line to the left and will be your second left once you cross the mosquito ditch. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Park Manager Adam Belden at Adam.Belden@FloridaDEP.gov.