Big Cypress ChapterServing Miami-Dade and Monroe counties
Chartered in 1981, the Big Cypress Chapter of the Florida Trail Association has been home to some of the first and most long-term members of the Florida Trail Association, including Florida Trail founder Jim Kern. Designated as National Scenic Trail, the Big Cypress section of the Florida Trail is part of the original trail walked by Jim Kern on his first exploratory hike in the mid-1960s and is one of the wildest segments of the Florida Trail. Our chapter strives to introduce and inform the ever changing inhabitants of the major metropolitan area of Miami and of the Florida Keys about the Florida Trail and discovering the beauty and wonder of natural Florida.
The chapter is involved in community events throughout the year, including special local outreach on National Trails Day in June. One of the chapter’s annual events, the Big Cypress Backpacking Trip (usually held during the weekend of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January), attracts backpackers looking for a strenuous challenge in the wilds of South Florida.
The Big Cypress chapter maintains the southernmost portion of the Florida Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve, with assistance from the Alligator Amblers chapter, based in the Fort Myers-Naples area.
The Florida Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve is one of the state’s most rugged places to hike. Winding through a haunting landscape of dwarf cypress rising from sawgrass, rare rocky islands topped with pine rocklands, colorful cypress sloughs festooned with dense bromeliads and orchids, and dense jungles of tall ferns. Slipping and sliding on wet marl and wading through ankle-to-knee deep dark water is a norm, and both day hikes and extended backpacking trips must be carefully planned. But the rewards are great: immersing yourself in one of Florida’s most diverse preserves, you truly get in touch with the wilderness.