At the tip of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is one of the busiest parks in South Florida.
Large crowds flock here for the excellent beaches, more scenic than those in neighboring Miami.
The historic Cape Florida Lighthouse towers over much of the activity, and a walk along the Biscayne Bay waterfront will provide a panorama of Stiltsville, a funky collection of above-the-water shacks in the bay shallows.
Lesser known, however, is the nature trail that bisects the natural areas of the park between the lighthouse and marina. Walk this 1.5-mile loop to learn a little more about Key Biscayne.
Location: Key Biscayne
Length: 1.5 to 2 miles
Lat-Long: 25.667583, -80.157400
Type: round-trip or loop
Fees: state park entrance fee
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug Factor: low to moderate
Restroom: at both ends
The trail is open and mostly shadeless; use adequate sun protection and carry lots of water.
Take I-95 exit 1A to the Rickenbacker Causeway (bridge toll) to Key Biscayne. Continue on Crandon Blvd for 7 miles to the end of the road; the park entrance is on the right. Follow the park entrance road to its end at the parking area nearest the bay side. The nature trail starts in the cut between the two parking areas. Look for the “Nature Trail” sign.
The trail map is shown on the park brochure. Starting from the “Nature Trail” sign, walk along an old jeep trail on the ecotone between a tropical hardwood hammock and open freshwater cattail marshes, passing a grouping of large ficus trees and scrambling up and over relict dunes before crossing the marina road to follow the mangrove forest along Biscayne Bay. There are many fragrant wildflowers in bloom, from woodlands phlox to yellow nickerbean.
At the first road crossing, turn left, passing a restroom, to reach the bike trail (turn left again) for a pleasant 1-mile return loop along the water’s edge through the shady tropical hammock. The second road crossing (at the marina) provides access to the bike trail (to the left) for a 2-mile loop. From the bike trail, you can see “Stiltsville,” a village of houses in Biscayne Bay.