Boca Chita Lighthouse and the Miami skyline

Biscayne National Park: Escape to Nature near Miami

After boating or paddling to one of the islands, walk these forest paths to find even greater solitude.

Hiking Easy

Boca Chita Lighthouse and the Miami skyline
Boca Chita Lighthouse and the Miami skyline Photo: Daniel Reichert

Description

Biscayne National Park is one of the largest marine parks in the national park system. It’s 95% water, so the vast majority of the natural environment is beneath the surface. The warm, clear waters host a diverse ecosystem with coral reefs, bountiful fish, dolphins, and manatees. That’s why boating, paddling, fishing, snorkeling, and diving are far more popular than hiking in this national park. You won’t want to miss the water activities, but you might also want to stretch your legs on one of the park’s short hiking trails.

The only area of the park on the mainland is the Dante Fascell Visitor Center. That’s where you’ll find the Jetty Trail, a short boardwalk popular with local families for fishing and nature viewing. You can launch your own canoe or kayak from there, or enter by water from elsewhere. Nearby commercial marinas offer boat rentals and charters.

The best time to visit Biscayne is in the winter. The warmer months can still be good for water activities, but camping and hiking become quite uncomfortable with heat, humidity, and bugs. You’ll want a breezy winter day to enjoy perfect temperatures and minimal mosquitoes on the islands.

Upon arrival, Biscayne feels more like a Miami local park than a national park thanks to its free entry, modest facilities, and community atmosphere. You can easily spend a day by seeing the visitor center and museum, walking the jetty, and taking a short paddle trip on the bay. To spend more time and experience the wilder corners of the park, you’ll need to venture farther on the water. You can follow a paddle trail to any of the several keys across the bay, or you can motor to one of their docks. On these islands, you’ll find the campgrounds and the rest of the hiking paths, plus shallow bays and mangrove creeks to explore by canoe or kayak.

Routes included

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