Bicycling is permitted on all paved roads in the Everglades National Park. In addition, there are several paths for bicycling, and also two hiking trails, the well kept Snake Bight and the not-so-well kept Rowdy Bend, where bicycling is permitted. The former bicycle trail along the Coastal Prairie Trail has been closed to bicycles as the Clubhouse beach is now considered "wilderness"
(Official Ranger Explanation)
Bicycling is generally prohibited on all other
The paths from US 41 are quite some distance from the Main Park entrance. Please refer to the maps for locations.
The Shark Valley entrance is located about 45 miles west of Miami on
highway US41, the Tamiami Trail. The entrance to the park is on your left
as you head west from Miami. The park opens at 8:30 am. The entry fee for
automobiles has changed often in the last several years, please check the Official Everglades National Park Web Page for current fees and charges.
Fee Collection Supervisor
There are several parking areas just outside the main gate, and a paved lot on the other side of US-41. Night riding is something best left to those familiar with the inhabitants of the Park. It is NOT recommended for those unfamiliar with the Everglades. The park closes it's parking lot gates at 6:00 pm, so plan on being back to the start area by then.
The trail is just under 15 miles round trip, all on a paved road. The park asks bicycle riders to leave the Visitors Center on the right side. This allows bike riders to see the approaching trams that tour the same loop road. At the end of the 7 mile segment is a rest station with an observation tower. Several bike racks and the smartest crows in the world can be found here. We have watched crows actually unzip bicycle packs and fly off with credit cards, lunches, and anything else they can carry! The rest stop has toilet facilities and a water fountain. The loop is a great spot for deer and an occasional raccoon.
The Shark Valley bicycle path is great for a family type trip, but remember, 15 miles on a bicycle is difficult for small children and adults unaccustomed to that long a ride, even on a smooth, flat road. The ride back to the start area is usually into the wind and takes a little longer.
What to See
Shark valley represents what most people see, or don't see, when they enter the Everglades. There is an abundance of wildlife, but if you happen to be in a group with radios blaring, (yes, we have seen people deep in the glades, even in canoes, with their boom boxes blaring.) you probably won't see much except sawgrass. You can see to the horizon in any direction, and if you look carefully, you may see the tell tale horizontal ears of the plentiful deer among the vertical sawgrass. The best view of the immense sawgrass river dotted with hammocks is from the observation tower at the loop or end of the trail. Most people are busy looking for alligators or snakes, and of course in the winter, the famous bird population. Depending on the time of day and the water level, alligators may be found tucked into the many culverts with just their snouts sticking out. Many riders pass over them and never know they are there! Insect repellant is MANDATORY during the summer months, the rainy season. During the winter months, after the first cold snap of the season, the ride is pleasant without the bug spray, just be careful not to stay too long in the few shady spots. There is very little shade and it is found only on the south outbound, or west leg.
March and April are my favorite months, I get to see the small newborn gators in the canal that was formed to fill the paved path. The canal runs the length of the west leg of the path. The bugs and flies reappear around the middle of May and can detract from the enjoyment of the ride.
Rental bicycles are available at the Visitor Center from 8:30am to 3:00pm.
Bicycle racing, roller skates, roller blades, and skate boards are prohibited.
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The well marked entrance to Snake Bight is a little over five miles
from Flamingo on the Main Park Road. There is one paved pull off on the
north bound shoulder, but parking is allowed along both sides of the main
highway. The Snake Bight trail is a well kept dirt road, although straight
and undemanding (a welcome relief if you went in on Rowdy Bend!).
The Rowdy Bend trail is a hiking trail that also allows bicycles. The trail starts just over two miles from Flamingo. Flamingo is at the end of the Main Park Road. Ride up from Flamingo, or park on the shoulder of the main road. The trail is not what it seems when first viewed from the highway. The well travelled dirt road only extends several hundred feet before the scrubby, and quite troublesome for bicycles, Rowdy Bend trail splits off to the right. The main road continues for a few hundred more feet, ending up in what appears to have been a trash dump at one time. Rowdy Bend is basically a hiking trail that is only cut to shin height. The resulting undergrowth is much like the bamboo spikes seen in oriental horror (sorry, action) movies which tend to impale a bicycle riders legs as he or she pedals through them. The resulting trail is not fun to pedal. The trail isn't friendly to equipment either, I suffered a tire puncture not 500 yards into the trail.
The trail is an interesting one, joining up with the Snake Bight trail so the ride back can actually be the straight dirt road that is Snake Bight. The trail can be fun IF you know what to expect and aren't pushing a bike with a puntured tire. Be prepared. I left my patch kit in the car.
Mosquito quotient: 100%
Long Pine Key is a camping area six miles from the Main Entrance at Everglades National Park. In addition to the camping area, the pine woodland is crossed with many old roads and paths from times before the park was formed in 1947. The resulting trails are excellent for hiking, and on the Long Pine Key Nature Trail, bicycling as well. The trail starts at Gate 4, not far from the campground, and wanders through the pine hammocks for a little under 6 and 1/2 miles. The Pine Glades Lake, a borrow pit, at Gate 8, can be used as a turn-around, or you can proceed another 1/2 mile to the Main Park Road. The return on the Main Park road is paved, however, even with the strictly enforced 55mph speed limit, bicycle riders must remember they are sharing the roadway with cars, many pulling boat trailers. Use caution as with any shared highway. Pick up the Pineland Hiking and Bicycle Trails handout at the Main Gate when you arrive at the Park for detailed locations.
What to See
The Pinelands seem more familiar to most visitors than the cypress or mangrove areas of the Park. Yet, the Pinelands offer various varities of plants not found anywhere else, including the small but beautiful everglades orchids. Hawks and other raptors are far more common than the wading birds found in the lowland areas of the park. The ride is fairly smooth on the old graded limestone surface, but the trail has a few rough spots. Again, it's best travelled in the dry, winter season. My wife calls the ride through the gentle whispering pines the "Ocean of the Sky." Again, insect repellant, preferably industrial strength and applied liberally, is mandatory, even during the dry season. There are several side trails that can be bicycled for short distances, but they are supposed to be for hiking only.
Park on the shoulder near Gate 4, or use the parking area just a few hundred yards beyond the gate. The round trip usually takes between three and four hours, depending on how much you want to see and hear. It can be done considerably faster if you are out to set records, or if you forgot your bug spray.....
The only bicycle accessible back country campsite is at the end of the Old Ingraham Highway. A back country permit is required for overnight camping. This is the old road to Flamingo that was replaced by the new Main Highway after Hurricane Donna. Once famous for it's old "Alligator Crossing" road signs, now serves as an excellent hiking and bike path.
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SORRY - We Haven't Found This One Yet!
E-mail here.All photos © George Mindling
This page is in no way sponsored or endorsed by the United States National Park Service.
Opinions and views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Department of the Interior.