Exploring Big Cypress
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 21 kicks off a week-long nationwide celebration of America’s National Parks, starting with fee-free admission on Saturday April 21. Get outdoors and explore Florida’s National Parks, your public lands!
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.