Experiences & Amenities
Janes Scenic Drive closed to vehicles past East Main parking area
Janes Scenic Drive is closed to vehicle traffic between the East Main intersection and the border with Picayune Strand State Forest. This section is still available to use by hikers and bikers. The section between the visitor's center and East Main, roughly six miles of road, remains open to vehicle traffic.
Bicycling is a popular activity throughout Fakahatchee Strand. Jane's Memorial Scenic Drive is composed of hard compact dirt and it is about eleven miles from the Ranger Station to the end at Picayune State Forest. Here 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 while some may be completely submerged. The most popular trails are the East Main Tram (gate 12), the West Main Tram (gate 7), and Jane's Memorial Scenic Drive. “Trams” (remnant railroad beds that create elevated linear pathways throughout the park) are trails here. 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 such as indigo, woodpeckers, ducks, wading birds, Roseate spoonbill, eagles, osprey, shorebirds, turkeys and vultures.
Canoe Kayak Launch
The East River launch is open from 8am to sunset to non-motorized vessels. The East River is a 5.6 mile brackish waterway consisting of mangrove tunnels and lakes, ending at Daniel’s Point in Fakahatchee Bay. This trail is recommended for intermediate levels and higher. Before paddling, check the tides because it affects the water level on the river. There are no trail markers so please bring a map and a GPS/compass. The launch is on the south side of US 41, 5.2 miles west of SR 29 and about 1 mile east of the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. Please use caution when launching as this is a popular area for paddlers. 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.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Canoeing and Kayaking are fun activities at the East River and in the many lakes in the preserve. The East River is a 5.6 mile brackish waterway consisting of mangrove tunnels and lakes, ending at Daniel’s Point in Fakahatchee Bay. This 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. The East River is on the south side of US 41 and 5.2 miles west of SR 29 and about 1 mile east of the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. The lakes in the preserve are freshwater. 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 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.
The Operation Recreation GeoTour hosted by Geocaching.com, stretches from Pensacola to Key West and includes 71 of the First Three Time National Gold Medal Award Winning Florida State Parks and Trails. Visit 20 caches and win the Official Operation Recreation Geocoin. Download and print the Official Tracking Sheet to begin your adventure. Remember to cache and save with unlimited entry for a year with the Florida State Parks Annual Pass.
The Florida Park Service is proud to announce it has launched the Operation Recreation Kids GeoTour. Look inside Operation Recreation GeoTour geocaches for one of six possible Nature Cards. Every cache has one of six species. Record the name of the Florida State Park where you first find each of the six species on the Kids Official Tracking Sheet. Find all six species and win the ORGT Kids GeoTour Geocoin!
Hiking Nature Trail
A 2,000-foot long boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend, meandering through the old growth cypress, is the shortest opportunity 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.
The East River, Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, and the Ranger Station in Copeland Florida provide picnic tables, however there are other areas to enjoy a sit down picnic throughout the park.
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. Feel free to 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 trip in to the park.