Looking for something fun and adventurous the whole family can do? Take a few hour drive down to experience the Everglades in a family friendly fashion. This is part one in a three part series.
Visit the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk – This one half mile boardwalk is along US 41 and lets you experience the wilds of the Fakahatchee Strand State Park Preserve without getting your feet wet. Look for the bright yellow flowers of the floating bladderwort in strands of water off the side of the trail. Giant Leather leaf ferns growing throughout the strand take you back in time when the dinosaurs romed the earth. Look up in the trees for various epiphytic plants such as the Giant Airplant, wild pine, and other bromeliads. As you make your way down the boardwalk ancient giant bald cypress trees tower over the forest decorated with resurrection fern, bromeliads, and an occasional wild orchid. Take a moment to size yourself up to the two giant cypress trees encased by boardwalk. A bald cypress tree can grow on average a foot in diameter every one hundred years and many of these trees are several hundred years old. This part of the strand was spared from the early 20th Century logging industry that cleared our Florida lands. This part of the strand look much like it did when the settlers inhabited north America. Take note of the strangler fig growing on the giant cypress tree. Further down on the left there is a giant cypress stump with a strangler fig growing out of the stump and arching over the boardwalk. The giant tree has fallen and has taken on a second life playing host to a lush garden of ferns. You are witnessing the cycle of life in that is common in the Everglades. As you near the end of the boardwalk, you come upon a pool of water that acts as a gator hole during dry season. Alligators, turtles, and large wading birds such as green heron, tri-colored heron, and Great white egrets can be found fishing for food. The purple flowers of the Alligator flag and pickerel weed can also be seen in bloom here. Take a few moments to sit and quietly observe the activity in the pond before the return trip back down the boardwalk.
Once finished with the boardwalk, take time to visit the psuedo Indian Reservation next to the boardwalk and learn how the native Americans survived in the Everglades.
Hours: Sunrise to sunset, 365 days
Directions: From I-75 exit right on SR 29 and turn south. Follow SR 29 several miles to US 41 and turn right. The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is a few miles down on the right. Click here for a map to the boardwalk.
Part 2 of 3: Family friendly Everglades’s hikes – Kirby Storter Boardwalk
Part 3 of 3: Family friendly Everglades’s hikes – 10,000 Islands NWR