For most visitors, the Anhinga Trail is their first and perhaps only glimpse into Everglades National Park.
Its proximity to the park entrance guarantees its popularity, and wildlife here is so common and complacent you’ll hear the tourists asking “is that alligator real?”
Yes, they are. Don’t get too close.
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Location: Everglades National Park
Length: 0.8 mile loop
Trailhead: 25.381913, -80.609572
Address: 40001 SR 9336, Homestead
Fees/Permits: Everglades National Park entrance fee
Restroom: at the Visitor Center
Land Manager: National Park Service
Open dawn to dusk. Although leashed pets are allowed in the park, we strongly recommend you do not bring pets on this hike. Alligators are everywhere.
From the Visitor Center you will have a chance to see many wading birds and sunning alligators from various observation platforms throughout the boardwalk.
The loop is fully accessible. Parents should keep close watch on their children.
From the Ernest Coe Visitor Center, follow the Main Park Road for 1.6 miles to the turnoff to Royal Palm Hammock. Turn left and follow this road for 1.9 miles to where it ends in the parking area.
From the Royal Palm Visitor Center, follow the broad paved path along Taylor Slough. It is a segment of the original Ingraham Highway, which ran from Homestead to Flamingo.
Taylor Slough is one of the few waterways in this portion of the park that retains water year-round, no matter how bad the drought may be elsewhere.
The water makes this a haven for wildlife. Cormorants hang out along the stone wall. Alligators sun on the grass.
Walk down to the end of the pavement, passing a boardwalk on the left at 0.2 mile. Continue straight ahead to an observation deck with a view over the marsh.
In spring, you’ll see nesting egrets, herons, and roseate spoonbills in the trees.
Return and turn right to follow the boardwalk along the slough. Alligators hang out on the hummocky islands.
The odd-looking cluster of trees are pond apple, a South Florida native tree with thick trunks and an apple that appeals to raccoons and other wildlife, but not to humans! It tastes like turpentine.
Cormorants cluster on the pond apple trees and the roof of the rain shelter. Look closely at the trees in the summer months to see sprays of delicate orchids.
Continue along the boardwalk to a spur trail on the right. Follow this out to an observation platform over a broader part of the slough, where alligators drift through the inky water.
Return to the main path and turn right. The boardwalk offers expansive views of the sawgrass prairies off to the right before it ends again at the paved trail.
Turn right and take your time, enjoying the wildlife, as you return back to the parking area.
Learn more about Everglades National Park
See our photos of the Anhinga Trail
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.