Coastal Prairie Trail

Hike through inhospitable habitats to camp on a wilderness beach at the far southern tip of mainland Florida.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
20 km
Ascent
10 m
Descent
10 m
Duration
3-4 hrs
Low Point
0 m
High Point
1 m
Gradient
Coastal Prairie Trail Map

If you want to do a backpacking trip in the Everglades, consider the Coastal Prairie Trail. It’s a remote path to a wild beach at the extreme southern tip of the Florida mainland. Camping is allowed on the beach, called Clubhouse Beach, with a wilderness permit from the national park.

Description

This route crosses some of the Everglades’ notoriously inhospitable habitats. They include marl prairie, where thin vegetation conceals ankle-wrenching potholes. There’s also impenetrable thickets of buttonwood shrubs and swaths of shoe-sucking mud. Luckily, the trail follows a historic road that cuts safely through the mire, but you’ll want to make sure to stay on route. During wetter periods, you may still have to cross sections of mud or shallow water. The Park Service states that the trail is not maintained, so additional obstacles may be encountered as well.

In addition to the difficulty of terrain, there are the factors of weather and wildlife. This trail is practically unbearable in summer because of heat, humidity, and bugs. Save it for the cooler months, but bring sun and insect protection all the same. Also, be sure to pack plenty of water, because winter is the dry season.

Once at Clubhouse Beach, you may find it all to yourself, though the camp is also used by kayakers. Tent spots are limited by the tide line and by vegetation, but there’s a handful of decent sandy spots, some even with a bit of shade. This is a truly isolated setting in which to spend a night, far from any roads and city lights, with a view across Florida Bay at the Keys on the horizon.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/coastal-prairie-trail.htm https://floridahikes.com/coastal-prairie-trail

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area