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General Information

Big Cypress National Preserve
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Big Cypress National Preserve
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.

Attractions - 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.

Location - 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.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Robert Flanagan (NYC, NY)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My wife Suzan and and I have hiked several parts of the Big Cypress National Presreve. North and south of Alligator Alley(75), South of Tamiami Trail(41) and Noth Of Loop Road. All part of the Florida Trail. We also hiked east from Turner River Road across from the fire Praire Trail. All of it is AMAZING. Lots of Alligators and a few snakes, including a water mocassin giveing birth, that was something special!We have been many times of the year. Prepare for water, wadding usually no deeper than the knees, but there is lots of dry land too, especially noth of 75 and east of fire praie trail. Bring water, insect rellent, though we rarely ran into mosquitoes, and food. Rubber boots might help but we used sandals and sneakers. Have fun and keep it clean.

More Information

Contact Information:
Big Cypress National Preserve, HCR 61, Box 110 , Ochopee, FL, 33943, Phone: 941-695-4111
, bicy_superintendent@nps.gov

Additional Information:
Florida National Forests & Parks - Florida's National Forests and National Parks contain a unique diversity of plants and animals, and numerous developed recreational facilities. Four National Forests and eleven National Park lands are located throughout the state.
Southwest Florida - Southwest Florida is called the "Wonderland for Wildlife." The region houses a number of endangered and protected animal and plant species.

Big Cypress National Preserve - Official agency website


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