Big Cypress South
Length: 24.6 miles (linear)
The Florida Trail’s Southern Terminus is located here at the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve, which encompasses 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, Big Cypress 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 thickets.
This section of the Florida 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. Seven Mile Camp is a particularly interesting location, where the night sounds of the chuck-will’s-widows mingle with the occasional screams of a bobcat or the sound of wild turkeys. Bluebirds, quail, kites, wood storks, short-tailed hawks, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker may also be seen.
Big Cypress is also home to eagles, deer, alligators, the Florida Black Bear, feral hogs, and the Florida panther. Alligator holes can sometimes be detected in drier weather when the water level is down.