East of Lake Okeechobee, near the terminus of the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail, DuPuis WMA preserves more than 21,800 acres of wild landscapes.
It has numerous hiking and equestrian trails, campsites, picnic areas, and other opportunities for exploring South Florida’s natural communities.
Acquired in 1986 from the DuPuis family and the White Belt Dairy Farm through the Save Our Rivers Program, this preserve has undergone a great deal of restoration.
South Florida Water Management District restored the historic hydrology and native plant and animal communities.
In a cooperative effort with the district, the Florida Trail Association developed a network of more than 22 miles of hiking trails.
At 7.5 miles, the Loop 2 Trail–with a side trip to its campsite–makes for a perfect day hike along this much longer system of trails.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 7.5 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.01059, -80.550892
Address: 23500 SW Kanner Highway, Canal Point
Land manager: South Florida Water Management District
Open 24 hours. Leashed dogs welcome. Foot traffic only, but you may encounter horses on short shared segments.
Bring bug spray, sunscreen, and plenty of extra water. Check in advance regards hunting dates and wear bright orange clothing if you choose to hike during hunts.
Depending on the time of year, the trail can be very wet or dry. Trail maintenance and mowing generally happen after the trail dries by mid to late winter. Before that it can be quite overgrown in places
Include your departure date and expected arrival date back to your vehicle, but no personal information. Practice Leave No Trace ethics when backpacking.
From Interstate 95 southbound from points north, take exit 101, Stuart. Follow SR 76 west for 21 miles to the entrance gate on the left.
From Interstate 95 in Jupiter, use the SR 706 exit. Follow SR 706 west 11.8 miles to where it meets SR 710 (Indiantown Rd) and turn north. Continue 7.5 miles to SR 76 and turn west. Or, from south of Jupiter, use PGA Blvd west to reach SR 710. Turn north and drive 19 miles to SR 76. Follow SR 76 west from SR 710 for 7.1 miles to the entrance.
The DuPuis WMA main hiking trailhead is located at the Gate 2 entrance off FL 76. There you will find an established parking area with informational kiosks.
From the parking lot, take the concrete path to the kiosk and trailhead, and follow the white blazes.
They lead along an access trail through the pine forest to the loop trails ahead. At a double blaze, bear right. At 0.3 miles, you’ll cross an equestrian trail.
The trail meanders through a dry sandy area of palm trees, live oak, and pines, with an understory of saw palmettos.
Depending on the time of year, you may see nesting pairs of red-shouldered hawks.
At 0.7 miles, cross a dirt road and continue along the white blazes. You may run into hog damage along the trail, as they dig it up foraging for food.
Enter a cool, damp, palm tunnel. Notice tangerine peels on the ground; now look up – you’re standing under a tangerine tree!
Depending upon the time of the year you may be able to reach up a grab yourself a juicy snack.
Continue through the palm tunnel. It ends at the Governor’s House picnic shelter.
This area is popular with equestrians and features plenty of room for horses and riders, along with four picnic tables. There is no water here.
From the pavilion, cross a dirt road diagonally and bear right back onto the trail, following the white blazes.
After 0.8 mile the blazes meet the north end of the loop trail system that stretches south through the preserve.
Take a right onto the loop trails, heading west, according to the sign. At a muddy spot in the trail at 1.2 miles, a drainage runs between low wet areas. There is a walk-around here.
By 1.3 miles, cross a horse trail and follow the white blazes into an area of very tall grasses.
Watch for blazes, as there are lots of game trails through the grass. They are not part of the loop trail but can lead you astray.
Walk past a depression marsh to your left, the first of several.
After 1.7 miles you’ll reach an area with lots of invasive Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), turning small trees and bushes into Dr. Seuss-like fantasies.
The trail becomes a bit overgrown. A sometimes hidden double blaze indicates a right hand turn at 1.9 miles.
Cross a grassy road, and a hundred feet later you’ll come to a sign indicating that Loop 1 goes left.
If you turned left here, you would come to the eastern side of the loop in another 0.7 miles. Hiking Loop 1 back to the trailhead would end up as a nice 5.1 mile hike.
To continue on the longer hike along Loops 2 through 4, continue straight ahead.
At 2.3 miles, pass through a pine forest with more saw palmettos. The white-blazed loop crosses a yellow-blazed equestrian trail at 2.9 miles.
The trail widens here, crossing a grassy service road and a fire break a quarter mile farther along.
As DuPuis is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, you may see or hear wild turkey, bobwhite quail, and red-shouldered hawks.
By 3.4 miles, reach a “Y” in the trail where Loop 2 splits off from Loops 3 and 4. This is an important junction. If you plan to hike the full outer loop, stay right.
Otherwise veer slightly left to follow Loop 2 to the east. A quarter mile later, wet prairie flanks both sides of the trail.
Make your way to the edge of the prairie to view wading birds like great blue herons and wood storks.
At 3.9 miles, come to a double white blaze. Go left here, and directly after there is a fork in the path with no visible blaze.
Take a hard left here into large patch of saw palmetto, then go right, finally noticing a blaze on your left.
In a couple hundred feet you’ll come to another sign that indicates Loop 2 east. Turn left and stay on the trail here.
(If you missed the last turn into the palmetto thicket and stayed on the wider path, it will still soon converge with the east part of the loop where you’ll turn left).
After the trail crosses a sandy service road, there is another depression marsh on the left.
By 4.5 miles, you reach a sign indicating a campsite. To visit it, follow the blue blazes (a 0.2 mile round-trip) to a simple clearing with a fire pit.
There is enough room for two or three tents, but no water. Backpackers must bring their own.
From the campsite sign, continue on Loop 2 by bearing right; you’ll see a white blaze ahead. At short boardwalk crosses a small stream at 4.8 miles.
At 4.9 miles a double blaze on a post marks a sharp left turn in the trail. At 5.1 miles, cross a wide grassy service road with a fire break down the middle.
At 5.2 miles you come to the intersection with Loop 1. Continue to the right and you’ll encounter a double white blaze on a post. A wide trail continues straight ahead, which could confuse.
Turn left here and continue on a curvy grassy path. At 6.1 miles, cross a grassy road with another confusing game trail continuing straight.
Look for the blaze to the right across the road. It indicates the Loop 1 trail veering to the right.
At 6.3 miles is a sign on the right for a 0.6 mile spur trail that leads to the DuPuis WMA Family Campground.
We found quite a bit of trail damage here from wild hogs, and the trail overgrown. In a short while you enter a pretty meadow.
The trail is not well-marked, but you’ll see blazes ahead, so walk straight across the meadow and continue following the white blazes.
At 6.7 miles you close the loop. Turn right, continuing past the Governor’s House, and hike 0.8 miles back to the trailhead and parking lot.
Learn more about DuPuis WMA
Other hikes within DuPuis WMA
On this western end of the Ocean-to-Lake section of the Florida Trail, this linear hike leads to the heart of DuPuis WMA, zigzagging through pine forests and cypress domes.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
11.7 miles. An ocean-like expanse, Lake Okeechobee is open water to the horizon along the long arc between Pahokee and Port Mayaca
14 miles. In an arc between ancient natural shoreline and expansive waters, this hike along Lake Okeechobee’s eastern shore offers unparalleled vistas
Snaking through an oh-so-slender slice of the rocky Okeechobee Ridge, the relict shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, the Rafael Sanchez Trail stays in deep shade for its 5.7 mile traverse of this skinny stretch of forest.