Immersing in prairies, wet flatwoods, and cypress strands, the DuPuis Loop Trail System at Dupuis WMA is foremost a backpacking destination.
Established by the Florida Trail Association more than three decades ago as a potential segment of the statewide Florida Trail, it has two backcountry campsites along the route.
In the early 2000s, the southwest corner of the DuPuis Loop Trail was overlaid with a linear Florida Trail route called the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail.
That 61 mile footpath extends from the NENA trailhead at Lake Okeechobee to Hobe Sound Beach.
Hikers tackling the DuPuis Loop Trail System generally use either the Gate 2 trailhead along SR 76 or the DuPuis Family Campground as their starting point.
The loops run in a chain north-south. Day hikes are popular on Loop 1 and 2. To tackle the entire outer loop, plan on an overnight stay.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Port Mayaca
Length: 16.5 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.
As the trail system at DuPuis is a chain of loops, your hike starts by following the west side of Loops 1 & 2 for the first 3.4 miles.
If you’re day hiking the northern loops, use these details. Otherwise, skip to the details below.
From the trailhead, follow the white blazes. A connector trail leads south into pine flatwoods, crossing DuPuis Grade, the main unpaved road through the preserve, at 0.7 mile.
Entering a palm tunnel after the road crossing, the trail emerges at the Governor’s House picnic shelter and equestrian trailhead.
From the pavilion, cross a dirt road diagonally and bear right onto the trail, staying with the white blazes. At 0.8 mile meet the north end of Loop 1. Veer right to hike Loop 1 West.
A drainage flows between wetlands at 1.2 miles. Cross an equestrian trail soon after into tall prairie grasses.
Follow the blazes carefully as there are many game trails in the open prairie. Pass a depression marsh.
At 2 miles, meet the Loop 1/2 crossover. Continue straight ahead onto Loop 2 West, entering pine flatwoods within a quarter mile.
Cross a yellow-blazed equestrian trail and a grassy service road, as well as a firebreak.
By 3.4 miles, the trail splits into a Y at the Loop 2/3 crossover. At this important junction, keep right.
Continue south on Loop 3 West through a slash pine and saw-palmetto forest.
You will see a large amount of ferns (native and invasive), wax myrtle, St. Johns Wort, and other wet prairie wildflowers along this loop.
Dead and weathered pines stand like eerie dancers at 3.8 miles, home to a marked red-cockaded woodpecker colony.
By 4.1 miles, the trail is in full sun. Be sure to put on a hat if you don’t have it on already. Pass another depression swamp on your left and more evidence of feral hog furrowing.
Reach a wide, grassy road. A sign marks the western junction with the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail (OTLHT) at 4.8 miles. It indicates the Lake Okeechobee terminus is 4.5 miles west.
Cross the road and continue straight southbound on Loop 3 West.
The trail enters dense undergrowth while following both the Dupuis Loop and the OTLHT, indicated by both white and orange blazes.
At 5.4 miles, take a hard right and enter a mixed pine and cypress stand with plentiful bromeliads in the trees.
The trail follows a grassy road and re-enters denser forest, following the white and orange blazes.
Entering a dense palm hammock, the trail reaches the Loop 3/4 crossover at 5.9 miles.
If you turn left here to focus on a Loop 3 hike, it’s 0.4 miles east to Loop 3 East. Hiking to the trailhead from this point would total 12.4 miles, with a potential stay at the Loop 2E campsite.
To continue along the outer loop via Loop 4 West, walk straight ahead. Cross a grassy road at 6.2 miles. Watch the blazing, as the trail makes many rapid turns.
Expect more slash pines and full sun by 6.6 miles, where woodpeckers and blue jays chatter from the trees. Take a hard left at the double blazes a quarter mile later.
At 7.7 miles cross a service road. By 8.1 miles, reach a small kiosk near the large Loop 4 West campsite, which sits 300 feet east.
The camping area adjoins a canal which several small to medium-sized alligators call home.
Shared with the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail, this campsite has three picnic tables, two fire pits with eight benches, a pump with non-potable water, and plenty of room for tents.
If you choose to spend the night, filter your water, pack out any trash, and douse any remaining campfire embers before getting back on the trail.
After leaving the campsite, follow the white and orange blazes, crossing the canal twice.
At 8.4 miles, reach the southernmost point of Loop 4. Here, the DuPuis Loop 4 Trail and the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail part ways.
Turn left to continue north on Loop 4 East, following the white blazes. Cross a grassy service road in a quarter mile.
At 9.4 miles, go right on a wide, grassy trail for 120 feet, then take a left, following the white blazes.
Cypress stands flank the trail on the approach to the ten mile mark. Watch for raptors roosting here, including swallowtail kites.
The forest thickens for a bit, then opens to a full sun area of wax myrtle and pine. At 10.5 miles, reach the junction of Loop 3/4 East.
Continue straight north to join Loop 3. At 10.8 miles is a stand of young pines. Watch for red-cockaded woodpeckers flitting from tree to tree, feasting on insects.
At 11.4 miles, their nesting grounds are marked by white stripes around the pines.
A large clear pond to the right often has alligators basking on its banks and wading birds poking around its edges.
The trail follows the left edge of the pond. At the north end of the pond, make a right on a grassy road followed by an immediate left into the forest.
Cross a sandy road / firebreak at 11.8 miles, taking caution with the depth of the sand so as not to turn an ankle.
A quarter mile later, pass a depression swamp and cypress dome on the right. Stick with the white blazes.
The trail meets the next cypress stand at 12.7 miles, looping around it. A quarter mile later, reach the Loop 2 East junction. Continue along the white blazes northbound.
After the trail crosses a sandy service road, there is another depression marsh on the left.
At 13.5 miles, a 0.1-mile spur leads to Loop 2 East campsite, a simple clearing with a fire pit and room for two or three tents. There is no water at this campsite.
After crossing a short boardwalk over a small stream north of this junction, watch for a sharp left double blaze.
A quarter mile later, cross a wide grassy service road with a fire break down the middle.
The Loop 1 junction is at 14.2 miles. Veer right and look for a double blaze on a post. Several unmarked trails branch off within this next half mile, so track blazes carefully.
The trail turns left onto a curvy grassy path. By 15.1 miles, reach and cross a grassy road. Look for a blaze across the road to find the trail veering right.
Meet a 0.6 mile eastbound spur trail to the DuPuis Family Campground at 15.3 miles. Skip past it unless your car is parked there.
The trail enters a meadow north of the junction. Walk straight across the meadow to pick up the blazes again.
At 15.6 miles, turn right to continue past the Governor’s House picnic shelter into the palm tunnel.
Follow the white blazes through the pine flatwoods to reach the SR 76 trailhead, completing the full 16.5-mile hike.
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.