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.
Location: Everglades National Park
Length: 0.8 mile
Lat-Lon: 25.381913, -80.609572
Fees/Permits: Entrance fee of $25 vehicle, $20 motorcycle, $8 cyclist/pedestrian. Good for one week.
Bug factor: moderate
From the Visitor Center you will have a chance to see many wading birds and sunning alligators from various observation platforms throughout the boardwalk.
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 Visitor Center, follow the broad paved path – a segment of the original Homestead-to-Flamingo Ingraham Highway – along Taylor Slough, 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, walk 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.
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.