3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
This hike goes through part of the vast Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness Area within Everglades National Park.
Though most of the Everglades is marshland, there are large swaths of drier ground as well, known as the pinelands.
These forests and fields are home to a great deal of diversity, from migratory birds and butterflies to herds of deer, and the rare Florida Panther. To hike this loop through the pinelands, start from Pine Glades Lake on the Long Pine Key Nature Trail, which is a wide dirt path popular with hikers and bikers.
About half of the loop is on this multi-use trail, and the other half is on hiker-only trails deeper in the wilderness area.
All of the route follows old roads, which are mostly of firm dirt surface but in places may be muddy, grassy, or rocky. The trail goes through a variety of habitats that are typical of the Everglades uplands.
Tall, thin slash pines grow generously spaced from one another, filled in by saw palmettos, thick grasses, and deciduous shrubs.
There are also expanses of dry prairie void of trees, as well as patches of dense broadleaf forest.
Look closely for the various natural residents of these habitats.
Wildlife is easiest to find in winter, when vegetation is thinner and water scarcer.
That’s also when numerous birds migrate to the region.
Winter is best for hiking in the Everglades anyway, as summer is too muggy and buggy.
Pick a cool but sunny day to walk some or all of this loop, enjoying broad South Florida skies and finding solitude among the pines. Source: https://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/long-pine-key-trails.htm