As Florida authors, we’ve spent a great deal of time in the Big Cypress Swamp. Because of its unusual beauty and botanical wonders, many aspects of it are featured heavily in our books on the region.
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Exploring Big Cypress
A massive ecosystem spanning more than a million acres, the Big Cypress Swamp is unlike anywhere else on Earth. Rainfall seeps across this landscape in a shallow southeast sheetflow.
Along its path, it nourishes both lush cypress strands with deeper waters and open prairies with wizened diminutive cypress atop a rocky puzzle of karst. Islands topped with tropical trees and pines poke out of this sea of swamp.
Picking up nutrients during this slow process, the waters of Big Cypress feed the mangrove marshes of the Ten Thousand Islands as they mingle with the Gulf of Mexico.
Public Lands in the Big Cypress Swamp
Many public and some private conservation lands protect this sensitive resource known as the Western Everglades. Hydrologically, the Big Cypress Swamp stretches from Fort Myers to the northwest down to Naples.
It extends east towards Okaloacoochee Slough on its northern end, and once reached Lake Okeechobee. On its southern section, it meets the Everglades “River of Grass” along the edge of the Miccosukee Reservation along the Tamiami Trail west of Miami.
Winding 1.4 miles through the slough, the broad wheelchair-accessible boardwalk at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers leads you into a dark cypress strand
The longer of two loops at Florida Panther NWR guarantees a wet walk through panther habitat of wet pine flatwoods and cypress domes
It’s the Amazon of North America, home of the ghost orchid. Protecting more than 85,000 acres, Fakahatchee Strand is Florida’s largest state preserve and most certainly our wildest.
At CREW Marsh, a network of well-marked paths crisscrosses the northwestern tip of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, providing loops of up to 3.1 miles along a vast marsh.
Weaving beneath a canopy knit by old-growth cypress trees in a majestic swamp forest, the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is one of Florida’s best hikes
Where to stay in the Big Cypress Swamp
These communities provide places to stay within and along the edges of the Big Cypress Swamp, as well as access to restaurants, ecotours, and museums.
Discover the cultural heritage and natural attractions of the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, too.
With airboat and swamp buggy rides as well as interpretation of native species, Billie Swamp Safari is an attraction providing immersion into the Big Cypress Swamp, ancestral home of the Seminole Tribe since the 1800s..
Swamp Walks in Big Cypress Swamp
A guided swamp walk such as the ones offered at the Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery are the best way to get your feet wet for the first time.
But this immense swamp also has many trails where you can wade right in, including Florida’s toughest backpacking trip along a 30-mile segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Here are a few suggestions.
Boardwalks in the Big Cypress Swamp
These accessible boardwalk trails provide an easy way to see the beauty of the Big Cypress Swamp without getting your feet wet. They are ideal for walking along slowly for birding.
Articles on the Big Cypress Swamp
Our narrative features on our adventures in the Big Cypress Swamp.
By December 15, all public comments are due on the new Big Cypress Backcountry Access Plan. Here’s our analysis of it and our opinions, along with a discussion of backcountry and wilderness in Florida.
It’s Florida’s roughest, wettest, weirdest backpacking trip, best tackled with friends. Along this 30 mile stretch of the Florida Trail in the heart of Big Cypress National Preserve, immersing in the swamp is the point of the hike. Sandra tackled it as the final stretch of her multi-year 1,110-mile section hike of the Florida Trail, end-to-end.
On a guided swamp walk into the Fakahatchee Strand, I discover how difficult it is to spot a ghost orchid on your own, let alone keep your bearings in this tangled tropical wilderness
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