Trails at Lovers Key

A view of two people walking along a trail.

The Black Island Trail at Lovers Key State Park offers a view into secluded estuaries full of wildlife.

The 5-mile-long trail is made up of two long loops connected by a wide dirt service road. There is a reason for the strange shape of the trail. It follows estuaries and canals that were dredged to make way for development on the island. Originally, the land here was meant to be turned into a residential neighborhood. Instead, it’s home to manatees and a great variety of coastal birds, fish, insects and reptiles.

Imperiled species that frequent this area include the bald eagle, West Indian manatee and American alligator. Also expect to see a variety of wading birds, including great blue heron, roseate spoonbills and reddish egrets. This area is especially important for wading birds and shorebirds — the mollusks and crustaceans that live in the underwater muck are a vital part of their diet.

The Eagle Trail brings walkers through maritime hammock dominated by cabbage palms, Jamaica dogwoods, strangler figs, gumbo limbos, catclaws, buttonwoods and seagrapes. Black and red mangroves line the trail in areas where it passes through marine tidal swamp.

Each trail is unique and takes hikers through the hidden wild areas and rich ecosystems of the park.