Everglades National Park

Location: south Florida
Date: January 2, 2014

Anhinga boardwalk

I made my second visit to Everglades National Park in Florida on January 2, 2014 (with my first having been in March 2008). Just like in 2008, I drove from Homestead to Flamingo and back in one day and stopped at many of the turnouts along the road. However, this time I stopped at more places and spent more time at Flamingo by eating at the cafe and going on the Florida Bay boat tour.

An egret and black vultures along the Anhinga Trail

Just after entering the park, I stopped at the visitor center and checked out the adjacent pond where the first of several anhingas I saw that day was perched. From there I made the short drive to Royal Palm where I walked both the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails, both of which are less than a half mile long. The Anhinga Trail is partly a boardwalk that goes around and through ponds where the wildlife was quite visible: anhingas (and chicks), cormorants, black vultures, egrets, herons, Florida gar and other fish, turtles, and of course alligators. The were noticeably fewer alligators this time (perhaps three or four), and they were all sedentary. The last time I was there the alligators were very active, and there were many many more. In a contrast to the Anhinga Trail, the Gumbo Limbo Trail goes through the forest where, other than a few lizards, there wasn't much wildlife to be seen.

Gumbo Limbo Trail


From Royal Palm, my next stop was at Pinelands where another half mile trail loops through the pine forest where I remembered seeing the many intricately colored snails on the vegetation in 2008. But I this time I only saw three snails, and I really had to look for them. Next was the cypress swamp boardwalk, which extends perhaps 50 yards into the forest of stunted bald cypress trees that had all lost their leaves for the winter (the dry season).

Cypress swamp

Along the Pa-hay-okee boardwalk

The Pa-hay-okee overlook is a short loop boardwalk that goes to an overlook of the Shark River Slough, the expansive marsh where much of the water is channeled through. The Mahogany Hammock is a raised area in the marsh that supports trees, including a large mahogany tree. Another short boardwalk loops through this hammock from the parking lot. A boardwalk at the West Lake parking area loops through the mangrove forest and emerges onto the brackish lake. This trail provides a unique view of mangroves that can be difficult to obtain without a boardwalk.

View from the boardwalk to the mahogany hammock (at left)

Mahogany tree

West Lake from the dock

Upon arriving at Flamingo, I had a fish sandwich for lunch at the cafe before going on the boat tour of Florida Bay. I was a little disappointed with this tour because we didn't see much wildlife. Other than an osprey nest in the bay that we spent a large portion of our time at, we only saw terns, pelicans, osprey, and a bald eagle fly over us as well as a few herons, egrets, and osprey perched on the mangroves near where the boat departed. I think I would have seen more wildlife on the backcountry boat tour, but who can be sure?

View into Florida Bay from the Flamingo Visitor Center

Osprey and their nest in the bay


The canal into the backcountry at Flamingo

After the boat returned to the dock, I walked to the other side of the store where there were a couple of manatees and crocodiles just below and next to the walkway. I then left Flamingo and began the drive out, during which I stopped at three ponds: Eco, Mrazek, and Nine Mile. There was no activity at Eco Pond, and Mrazek Pond had a few waterfowl in it, but Mrazk Pond had an alligator, vultures, shorebirds, and waterfowl, in addition a group of people in canoes coming in. By the time I left Nine Mile Pond it was almost sunset, so I just drove the rest of the way out of the park.

Nine Mile Pond

Mrazek Pond

Alligator at Nine Mile Pond

Sunset on the way out

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