Referred to as OK Slough by locals, Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest protects over 32,000 acres.
Historically part of a large watershed feeding the Big Cypress Swamp and Fakahatchee Strand, the land was heavily timbered and became surrounded by farmland.
Despite these disturbances, you’ll find many natural landscapes inside this lesser-traveled state forest.
Miles of trails offer opportunities for hiking, cycling and horseback riding, and a couple of primitive campgrounds invite campers for a quiet night under the stars.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 5.6-mile loop
Trailhead: 26.589552, -81.378903
Address: 6265 Keri Rd, Felda, FL 33930
Fees: $2 per person, payable at the beginning of the forest toad to the trailhead.
Land manager: Florida Forest Service
Open Sunrise – Sunset. Dogs are allowed on a leash. Expect wet feet on this hike.
Seasonal hunting occurs throughout this forest. Check ahead before you make plans for outdoor recreation.
From SR 80 in LaBelle, head south on SR 29 for 11.3 miles, then turn left onto CR 832 (Keri Rd). Continue for 3.9 miles and turn right onto a forest road named Sic Island Rd. Parking for the boardwalk is about 0.2 mile on the left, and the parking area for the Tram Loop is at the end of the road, a little under a mile.
Starting at the south end of the parking lot, head to the left to begin a clockwise hike around the loop.
Large oaks, slash pines, and cabbage palms line the trail as it follows an access road into the slough.
Orange blazed posts lead the way southward along a wide sandy pathway.
Thick vegetation flanks the trail, covered with countless spiderwebs that become heavy with dew in early in the day.
In a quarter mile, the trail opens to a panoramic vista of wet prairie, accented by distant cypress domes rising from the otherwise level expanse.
Great egrets parallel the horizon, gracefully flapping their stark white wings over a grassy landscape dotted with Carolina willow and alligator flag.
The trail leaves the wetlands at one mile, climbing slightly onto higher ground covered by a forest of slash pines.
Saw palmettos increase in number, sharing the understory with wax myrtles and tall golden grasses.
Grapevines climb over shrubs and up tree trunks alongside blooms of bright yellow coreopsis that flourish in the wetter conditions adjoining the forest road.
As the trail turns westward at 2.5 miles small oaks become more prevalent, their branches covered in tufts of Spanish moss.
Although mostly unseen from the trail, the loop circles nearly a dozen ponds, and the calls of multiple wading birds and waterfowl can be heard through the dense trailside bushes.
Several mammals inhabit the swampy landscapes, including otters, black bears, and Florida panthers.
A quiet hiker might catch a glimpse of this timid wildlife, though evidence is more likely to be seen in tracks along the trail.
At mile four, the trail passes a bench while leaving the road to join an old railroad tram.
The raised, straight bed heading northward was once part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, primarily used to deliver goods from farms to the south.
Deep swamps border the path on both sides, covered in water-adapted willows and lilies.
Halfway along the tram, the trail crosses over a ditch on an old bridge. This structure is a remnant of the railway, along with sporadic ties laying along the elevated edges of the trail.
Cows bellow in the distance as they graze on private ranchlands to the west. The trail continues in a straight line for a mile before reaching the trailhead.
Learn more about Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest
Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest
Protecting the headwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp south of the Caloosahatchee River, expansive Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest preserves the heart of wild South Florida.
A virtual walk in the woods on the 5.6 mile Tram Loop
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
CREW Marsh Trails
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.
LaBelle Nature Park
Along a mile of interconnected footpaths at LaBelle Nature Park, walk a gentle half-mile loop with views of the Caloosahatchee River from a lush hammock
CREW Cypress Dome Trails
On this 4.4 mile loop, experience an impressive array of habitats in Florida panther habitat – from sandy flatwoods to flooded cypress swamps – in the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
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