Big Cypress North
Length: 30.2 miles (linear)
The trail north of Big Cypress National Preserve lies within the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Much of the landscape is similar to the Preserve, except it gets somewhat higher and drier with more pinelands. There are also canals, roads, orange groves, farm and cattle lands, and Indian homes including their picturesque chickees.
The trail follows roads in the Indian Reservation, permitting access to three unique attractions — Billie Swamp Safari, the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki Museum, and the Big Cypress Campground
. Other places of interest include a Visitor Center, village, rodeo, and churches. Billie Swamp Safari is a wilderness preserve of prairie, swamp, and hammock with excellent facilities and interesting tours. The new, attractive Ah-Tha-T
hi-Ki Museum shows a blend of old and modern Seminole cultures and history. The loop nature trail behind the museum is well worth the time and price of admission. The Indian Reservation lands connect with the South Florida Water Management District
canals at the northeast corner of the Reservation. These canals pass through scenic farmland where cattle and horses graze.South of the Reservation, the trail passes through the great swamp of dwarf pond cypress and crosses pine islands, hammocks, giant ferns, and prairies with cabbage palm and saw palmetto. Bromeliads (air plants) are everywhere. Bluebirds, quail, kites, wood storks, short-tailed hawks, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker may be seen. Big Cypress is also home to eagles, deer, alligators, bear, feral hogs, and Florida panthers. Alligator holes can sometimes be detected in drier weather when the water level is down. Big Cypress National Preserve consists of 729,000 acres of subtropical terrain, about a third of which is covered with the dwarf pond cypress. Bordering the northern edge of Everglades National Park, it is named for its great expanse, not the size of the trees. In addition to the cypress swamp, the landscape has sandy islands of slash pine and hardwood hammocks, as well as sloughs, wet prairies, marshes, and mangrove forests.