Known regionally as OK Slough, Okaloacoochee Slough is a vast watershed that provides the northernmost rainfall filtering into the Big Cypress Swamp.
Although much of its historic expanse have been converted to farms and ranches, this 32,000 acre swath of state forest helps ensure waterflow to its south.
Resources for exploring the region
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Headquarters: 6265 Keri Rd, Felda, FL
Primary Trailhead: 26.599232, -81.374260
Fees: $2 per person, payable at iron rangers
Restrooms: Vault toilet at campground
Land manager: Florida Forest Service
Open sunrise to sunset except if camping. Leashed dogs welcome. Campsites must be reserved. Food protection a must due to bears and panthers.
Seasonal hunting occurs throughout this forest. Check ahead before you make plans for outdoor recreation.
The forest is laced with a network of rough forest roads. Many may be underwater at certain times of year, following the seasonal hydroperiod.
The forest lies halfway between LaBelle and Immokalee off SR 29. From Interstate 75 at SR 82 in Fort Myers, follow SR 82 east for 25.3 miles to SR 29 at Felda. Continue north 7.5 miles towards LaBelle. Turn east on CR 832 (Keri Rd) through Spirit of the Wild WMA for 3.9 miles to reach the western edge of the state forest.
About the Forest
Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest lies southwest of Lake Okeechobee and northeast of Lake Trafford, north of Immokalee.
As one of the last strongholds of the Florida panther, it provides a significant amount of habitat for a feline with a fifty-square-mile range.
As it is an integral part of the collection and dispersion of summer rains southward through the Florida peninsula, the forest experiences a distinct hydroperiod: wet in summer, dry in winter.
During times of high water, forest staff will close some of the roads to vehicles. Check ahead before making plans to visit.
Three distinct hiking trails and a nature trail encompass the marked pathways at Okaloacoochee Slough.
The boardwalk and the 5.6 mile Tram Loop are the first hikes you encounter inside the forest boundary along Keri Rd. Both are south off of Sic Island Rd.
The 0.4-mile round-trip nature trail leads to views from a boardwalk extending into a large wet prairie. Continue just shy of a mile down the forest road to reach the trailhead for the Tram Loop.
Past the fire tower and forest headquarters, turn north on Twin Mills Grade to access the trailhead for the 2.5 mile Twin Mills Trail, another loop hike.
Far deeper in the forest, south of the primitive campground on Wild Cow Grade, the linear Rooney Island Trail extends nearly two miles into soggy landscapes.
Just south of the campground and Rooney Island Trail is the marked equestrian trail system that jogs on and off of Wild Cow Grade, Mustang Grade, and Mustang Loop.
A large grassy area sits across from the entrance. This marked route provides more than eight miles of riding, with additional miles possible along the unpaved grades themselves.
Cycling is permitted on the network of forest roads within the state forest. With the exception of Keri Rd, the roads are unpaved and sometimes wet.
In addition, a dedicated mountain bike trail off Keri Rd at Dog Island offers off-road cyclists a challenging set of loops to explore.
Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest offers a primitive car camping area along Wild Cow Grade.
Panther Pond has sixteen sites, only one of which can handle a camper. The remainder are for tent camping only. Sites include a picnic table.
At the very remote end of Wild Cow Grade, Wildcow Primitive Group Camp can be reserved for groups of up to ten people. Pets are permitted here and at Panther Pond.
The forest also has two hunt camps that are open seasonally for hunters.
Visitors with a Florida freshwater fishing license are welcome to drop a line in any of the ponds and sloughs found along the forest roads and trails.
Seasonal hunting is permitted in accordance with FWC regulations for fall deer season and spring turkey season. Hunts run on a quota system.
Please consult the FWC Hunt Dates link below for quota information, a map of permitted hunting zones, and exact dates of upcoming hunts.
A virtual walk in the woods on the 5.6 mile Tram Loop
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
At CREW Marsh, a network of well-marked paths crisscrosses the northwestern tip of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, providing loops of up to 3.1 miles along a vast marsh.
8.0 miles. An easy ramble from the I-75 rest area north along Nobles Grade, this wildlife-rich segment of the Florida Trail offers several loop options for day hikers and backpackers.
Weaving beneath a canopy knit by old-growth cypress trees in a majestic swamp forest, the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is one of Florida’s best hikes