Description - Big Cypress was once a region lush of pristine cypress strands and old-growth pinelands. By 1950, nearly all the ancient trees had been logged, yet today, the forest is making a remarkable comeback with areas of cypress, mixed-hardwoods, and pine. About a third of the preserve supports dwarf pond cypress. Much of the area floods during the wet season enhancing the habitat. Two plant species of particular interest are the indigenous air plants and orchids. Many endangered and threatened species make this preserve home including the shy Florida panther and the once nearly extinct red-cockaded woodpecker. Today, large numbers of the woodpecker feed and nest throughout the preserve. Outdoor enthusiasts will find a variety of activities available; two favorites are backpacking and camping.
Copyright: National Park Service
Big Cypress National Preserve
- The Big Cypress National Preserve protects the watershed of the same name, which is important to the ecosystems within Everglades National Park. The name Big Cypress does not refer to the size of the trees, but to the vast amount of cypress in the region. It covers one-third of the 729,000-acre preserve.
Recreation - Visitors to this National Preserve can participate in scenic driving, photography, hiking and walking, off-road vehicle use, and bird watching. The visitor center is an excellent place to orient yourself to the activities available at Big Cypress. It offers a movie about the preserve, a wildlife exhibit and a bookstore. During the winter season the preserve offers scheduled ranger-led wet walks, canoe trips, bicycle tours, and campfire programs at the campgrounds.
Developed areas within the preserve include two roadside picnic areas, a nature trail and two scenic drives. Over 31 miles of the Florida Trail leads through the preserve. Two scenic drives through the preserve provide leisurely wildlife viewing. In the Bear Island area, swamp buggies, ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles (with a permit) may use designated improved trails. Bicycles are allowed on some of the improved trails in Bear Island and on all roads.
Five primitive campgrounds are available to the public free of charge: Bear Island, Midway, Monument, Pinecrest and Mitchell's Landing. These campgrounds have no water or restroom facilities. The Dona Drive area has a dump station and a potable water supply.
Climate - The climate in southern Florida is subtropical, with mild winters and hot, wet summers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). Yearly precipitation for the southwest area is more than 56 inches. Lightweight clothing for hot temperatures is suggested. Long sleeves, pants, sturdy shoes and bug repellent are recommended if hiking.
Big Cypress National Preserve is located 60 miles west of Miami and 60 miles east of Naples in Ochopee, Florida. Access to the preserve is easiest from U.S. Highway 41.