Experiences & Amenities
Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk closed
The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk will remain closed during this phase of the park's reopening.
Bicycling is a popular activity throughout Fakahatchee Strand. Janes Memorial Scenic Drive is composed of hard compact dirt and it is about 11 miles from the ranger station to the end at Picayune State Forest.
You will travel through various ecosystems like cypress domes, pine forests and prairies. There are also off-road trails throughout the park where mountain biking or fat-tire biking opportunities are abundant.
Trail conditions vary seasonally and can go from being dry to having standing water and muddy areas; some may be completely submerged. The most popular trails are the East Main Tram (gate 12), the West Main Tram (gate 7) and Janes Memorial Scenic Drive. Trams, or remnant railroad beds that create elevated linear pathways throughout the park, serve as trails.
- Bikes are allowed on all trails except the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk and a portion of the Florida Trail called the Uplands Hiking Trail.
- Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists, and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
One of the southernmost sites on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve is a popular site for birding. Visitors can expect to see Florida native, migratory and several species of tropical birds. Common sightings include swallow-tailed kite, red-shoulder hawks, barred owls, warblers, buntings, woodpeckers, ducks, wading birds, roseate spoonbill, eagles, osprey, shorebirds, turkeys and vultures.
Canoeing and kayaking are fun activities at the East River and in the many freshwater lakes. The East River launch is open to non-motorized vessels from 8 a.m. to sunset. The launch is on the south side of U.S. 41, 5.2 miles west of State Road 29 and 1 mile east of the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. Please use caution when launching as this is a popular area for paddlers.
East River is a 5.6-mile brackish waterway consisting of mangrove tunnels and lakes, ending at Daniel’s Point in Fakahatchee Bay. The trail is recommended for intermediate levels and higher. Before paddling, check the tides as the waterway is dependent on the tides.
There are no trail markers, so please bring a map and a GPS/compass. There are several wading bird rookeries along the East River Paddling Trail. Please be respectful of the wildlife and do not approach the nesting bird sites.
- The most popular sites for fishing from canoes and kayaks are near the ranger station at Janes Memorial Scenic Drive and at the northern end of the park at Jones Grade Road.
- Alligators and a variety of birds can be seen in both areas.
There are many fishing locations throughout the preserve from brackish water to freshwater rivers, canals and lakes. See the park map for water source locations. All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season.
- A fishing license may be required. More information is available at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment, and conscientious land-use ethics should be followed.
A 2,000-foot-long boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend meandering through the old growth cypress is the quickest way for visitors to experience the beauty of the strand swamp. Many more trails exist in the preserve such as the East Main Tram (gate 12), West Main Tram (gate 7) and Uplands Hiking Trail. See the map for location and length. Each trail travels through different natural communities with many wildlife viewing and birding opportunities.
Picnic tables can be found at the entrance of the park off Janes Scenic Drive, the East River entrance, the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk and a half-mile down the West Main tram. Relax and have a meal/snack before or after your adventure in the park.
Fakahatchee Strand has an abundant variety of wildlife. White-tailed deer, black bear, bobcats, raccoons, opossums, red-shouldered hawks, turkeys, barred owls and vultures are commonly seen in the park.
The wetlands attract alligators, ducks, wading birds, roseate spoonbills, eagles, ospreys and many species of shorebirds. The American crocodile and West Indian manatee can be found at the southern end of the preserve.
Fakahatchee Strand is also one of the best places to see the elusive Florida panther or the Everglades mink.
The Karen O’Neil Memorial Garden, located at the park entrance off Janes Scenic Drive, offers visitors a glimpse of a variety of native plants that can be viewed throughout your park trip.