Protecting the heart of the Big Cypress Swamp, Big Cypress National Preserve was established in 1974 to prevent further incursions of development into this sensitive rain-fed ecosystem. Exploring its lush subtropical landscapes means wading through crystal-clear swamps or paddling its channelized rivers.
Fees and permits: Most access is free. Camping fees charged. OHV permits required. Backcountry camping (free) permits required; sign in at kiosks or check in at a ranger station prior to your trip.
Big Cypress National Preserve protects a landscape of dramatic proportions, more than 1,125 square miles undeniably rich in botanical beauty from the broadest expanses of prairie to the tiniest spout of a whisk fern in the crook of a wizened, ancient bonsai-like cypress. The Big Cypress Swamp encompasses a series of shallow linear cypress strands stretching north to south, with names like Robert’s Strand and Skillet Strand, as part of a large mosaic of tropical hammocks, marl prairies, pine rocklands, pine flatwoods, and the mangrove fringe.
Bisected by the Tamiami Trail (US 41) and Alligator Alley (I-75), the preserve offers numerous opportunities to explore, either on foot or by kayak. The southern terminus of the Florida Trail starts at the Oasis Ranger Station, plunging backpackers into several days of wading through swamps up to hip-deep at times.
Explore Big Cypress National Preserve
- Florida Trail, Big Cypress North- An easy ramble from the I-75 MM 63 rest area north along Nobles Grade through Big Cypress National Preserve, this wildlife-rich 8-mile segment of the Florida Trail offers several loop options for day hikers and backpackers.
- Florida Trail, Big Cypress South- Traversing the wet, wild landscapes of the Big Cypress National Preserve, this 30.3 mile segment of the Florida Trail is its most remote part, and is the toughest backpacking trip in the state of Florida. It's a hike like no other in the world.
- Kirby Storter Boardwalk- An accessible walk through the habitats of the Big Cypress Swamp, Kirby Storter Boardwalk gets you up close to the wonders of nature in Big Cypress National Preserve
- Roberts Lake Trail- No longer officially part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Loop Road to Oasis section of the Florida Trail is now blazed blue. This is where sawgrass and cypress meet, where the Everglades and Big Cypress blend.
- Tackling the Tamiami Trail Triathlon- Trying the hiking portion of the Tamiami Trail Triathlon in summer is a little crazy, but we wanted to check it out. The swamp is lovely, but the loop uses a hiker-unfriendly OHV road
- Tree Snail Hammock Trail- At Tree Snail Hammock, you enter a world inhabited by rare and tiny creatures—the colorful and endangered liguus tree snails of South Florida.
Articles about Big Cypress National Preserve
- Crossing Big Cypress (Feb 2019)- 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.
- Adding to the Life List (Jul 2015)- Although John is a native Floridian, our research trip to South Florida became an opportunity for him to see many natural "firsts" in Florida that most people have on their life lists.
- Going primitive with Primrose (Mar 2015)- How do you car camp in a Volkswagen camper when you have no power? It takes a little ingenuity to keep electronics powered and a lantern to keep you up past hiker midnight
- Kicking off Hiker Season with Primrose (Jan 2014)- On January 5th, we loaded up Primrose and headed south, traveling parallel to the Florida Trail for much of the trip, starting out at Christmas. Driving south of Tosahatchee, we continued through the Deseret Ranch where we spotted our first two Florida Trail thru-hikers walking up the highway. Although they are not keeping online journals, […]
- Florida Trail Southern Terminus marker installed (Dec 2013)- Since its debut on a hand cart this January during the thru-hiker season kickoff at Oasis Visitor Center, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the permanent placement of the Florida Trail Southern Terminus marker in Big Cypress National Preserve. The marker was put in place yesterday, December 12. Said Bob DeGross, Chief of Interpretation and Public Affairs […]
- In the Dark (Jan 2013)- After our wonderful reception at the I-75 rest area, several hikers decided to backtrack a bit and camp. I decided to push on and try for a few more miles. I was rested and filled with good food. It wasn’t long after I made it through the north I-75 gate to Nobles Road that the […]
- Crossing the Big Cypress (Jan 2013)- On Friday, our group of Florida Trail hikers left our group camp at Trail Lakes Campground and, with Chuck Norris and Tigger providing transportation, headed to the Florida Trail at Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. We were there for the FNST Southern terminus monument dedication. Lots of folks from the Loxahatchee Chapter […]
- New Florida National Scenic Trail terminus dedicated (Jan 2013)- This morning marked the first time that Florida Trail thru-hikers could get their picture taken in front of a terminus marker as found, say, on Springer Mountain in Georgia or Mt. Kathadin in Maine. Although the monument isn’t in place yet – the chunk of limestone hadn’t arrived – here’s a look at the marker […]
- Summer in Big Cypress (Jul 2011)- Vibrant, green, and blooming - there's no better time to visit Big Cypress National Preserve than in the summer months, when the gentle flow of collected raindrops across the landscape nourishes the sawgrass prairies and cypress strands
Nearby: Everglades City, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Miami