Sometimes you and your family just need a short fun getaway that is simple to organize and accomplish. Busy schedules of both parents and children often seem to prevent this from happening, but here in South Florida, with great weather and abundant sunshine, a day trek might be just the ticket to an exciting day of fun for the entire family.
South Florida has numerous hiking trails perfect for the entire family. Whether you’ve been exploring Florida trails or have only dreamed about taking your family on an outing to see Florida’s natural habitats, now is the time to explore some of Florida’s best short hikes that are both scenic and fun for the whole family. Before you head out, be sure to check out Camp Live Oaks’ Hiking Safety Blog. And when you head out, don’t forget your camera, drinks, and snacks, and maybe even a full-blown picnic!
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve –
In the heart of the Everglades, you’ll find Fakahatchee Strand where you can drive and explore on foot as you please. Be alert during your Fakahatchee adventure as you might spot a Florida panther – how exciting! As you and the children look for panthers, be sure to look down and search for panther prints (large tracks, four toes, no claws). The single strand swamp is also home to alligators, snakes, orchids, mangroves, and black bears. Because you can choose to drive and walk in Fakahatchee, this is the ideal Day Trek for families with very young children.
Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail –
An easy trail for families, this paved portion of the immense Florida Trail can be hiked or biked and offers panoramic views of Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest lakes in the U.S. Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail provides a full array of birding opportunities from cormorants to sandhill cranes, caracara to bald eagles and more. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a bobcat. Certainly, you’ll enjoy the views and native fauna that grace the area including tropical palms, grasses, and flowers.
Anhinga Trail –
If day trekking is new to you and your family, Anhinga is a great place to begin. Often your first sight as you enter Everglades National Park, this short trail (a little less than a mile) is a great hike. From the boardwalk along this trail, you are likely to see sunning alligators, racoons, and other wildlife as well as many native or migratory birds including cormorants, egrets, spoonbills, and herons. Take note of the clustered trees, the pond apple, which the racoons enjoy, and the picturesque sawgrass prairies.
Apoxee Wilderness Park –
Located in Palm Beach County, the Apoxee Wilderness Trail, is a four plus mile hike which displays the flow of water through Florida’s varied habitats, so wear appropriate shoes because your feet will likely get wet along the way. The trail begins in a tropical hardwood hammock and opens into a boardwalk trail amid a large wet prairie. Wildlife sightings are common, including lots of wading birds.
Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk –
A part of the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, this short 1.2-mile boardwalk hike is not to miss. The boardwalk winds you through a majestic cypress tunnel into the swamp where you can see otters, alligators, water bugs, frogs, and numerous wading birds. This section of the Fakahatchee Strand offers a history lesson as well, in 1966 it was registered as National Natural Landmark. Note the many tropical trees indigenous to Florida’s own tropical rainforest including royal palms, myrsine, and giant leather ferns, but don’t touch the poison ivy.
Coconut Point Sanctuary –
Located in Brevard County, the Ocean to Lagoon Hike in Coconut Point Sanctuary is a loop trail connecting the Atlantic to the Indian River Lagoon. This fun family one-mile loop allows you to explore several Florida habitats and offers the opportunity to see everything from wildflowers to Florida scrub-jays to manatees. Rumor says this is the site that Ponce de Leon landed.
Wherever you choose to explore, you and your family will enjoy the time spent day trekking Florida’s vast hiking trails and exploring all that nature has to offer.