For those wishing to explore the everglades on foot, the Anhinga Trail which starts from Royal Palm Visitor Center in the Everglades is the best place in the National Park.
We absolutely love visiting National Parks in the USA. In fact, it is probably our favourite thing to do in the US. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this trail in the Everglades National Park, Florida!
See more – Best Hiking Trails in the Everglades.
Anhinga Trail Everglades (Alligator Spotting Tips!)
The Everglades National Park is not hugely set up for exploration on foot. There are of course some trails that you can easily complete on foot (like the Gumbo Limbo Trail) but most area are best explored by bike or airboat. See our guide on the best everglades airboat tours if you want more information on airboats.
The Anhinga Trail Everglades is an exception to this general rule and can be very easily be explored by foot.
The Anhinga Trail Everglades is an extremely do-able trail for all ages and abilities.
About the Trail
The Anhinga Trail is great for animal spotting but take note it is an open trail with very little shade.
The trail starts as a paved track and moves onto a boardwalk over the top of swamplands.
Along the trail there are some small shelters where you can retreat from the sun and rehydrate (with you own water) but it is largely very open air.
The trail length & time to complete
The Anhinga Trail is only 0.8 miles (1200 meters) round trip.
It takes no more than 1 hour of time to complete the trail including time allocated to take photographs.
As we stated above, people of all ages and abilities were walking the Anhinga Trail. We saw young families and older people alike walking the trail.
It is really an activity that is great for everyone!
Alligator Spotting Tips!
Once of the reasons we like this trail so much is that the likelihood of seeing an alligator is high.
We saw far more alligators on the the Anhinga Trail Everglades than we did in Shark Valley for example. It is without doubt one of the best places to see alligators in Florida.
If you want to spot an alligator keep your eyes peeled just off the path in the bushes.
We saw quite a few alligators retreating from the sun in the shade just off the main trail. It can be hard to spot them as you walk along the path as they camouflage in very well.
We spotted the big buy below just off the walking path, hiding in the bushes.
Baby Alligator Spotting
If you visit in the Spring you may be lucky enough to spot some baby alligators along the trail like we did. They are the cutest!
Half way through the Anhinga Trail, the path turns into a boardwalk. As you peer over the boardwalk you will see many lilypads in the Spring and Summer time.
We saw many baby alligators, I would say around 15, basking in the sun on top of the lillypads.
Do you spot the little cutie in the photo below?
Anhinga Trail Alligator Attack
Alligators, unlike the Australian crocodile are not overly aggressive.
You can stand quite close by and stand a slim chance of getting attacked. Try standing that close to a salty crocodile (Actually, don’t you would be dinner)
In saying that there are occasionally fatalities when people act stupidly around the alligators.
Remember, alligators are wild animals. It is prohibited to feed them and you should not go too close. Stay on the path at all times to minimise the risk of an attack.
Deaths in the Everglades
Believe it or not most of the deaths in the Everglades are not related to alligators but to airboats.
It is important that you choose a well respected airboat company as if the driver acts reckless the airboat can flip, causing fatalities.
There has been 7 airboat death and over 100 injuries in the past 3 years.
In comparison, we could not find an alligator related death in the Everglades. An alligator somewhere in Florida kills a person every 1-2 years.
Other Animals along Anhinga Trail
We absolutely love spotting animals in the wild and there are many possibilities to spot animals along the Anhinga Trail.
As we were beginning the trail we read that panthers actually live in the area! Sadly, we didn’t see any during our time and it is unlikely you would either as there are less than 100 Floridian Panthers living in the wild today. So sad!
We did manage to see some other cool animals though!
We saw many white herons as we walked along the Anhinga Trail. We also spotted a turtle swimming around in the water as we peered off the boardwalk looking for alligators.
Tip: You can find more information about this walk and other wildlife at the Ernest F Coe Visitor Centre.
Anhinga Trail Best Time?
We visited the Everglades in September and it was extremely hot. It was so hot it was borderline uncomfortable to walk the trail.
In saying this, we absolutely loved seeing the abundance of wildlife in Spring including the baby alligators.
In the Summer/Spring months, there is water in the areas underneath the Anhinga Trail. A wet swampy area brings a lot more wildlife to the area.
In the Winter months, when it stops raining, the river of grass drys up. On the plus side, there are virtually no mosquitoes!
We have previously visited the Everglades in winter, but not the Anhinga Trail. It was still very hot.
There is a saying in Florida there are 2 seasons – hot and very hot. This rings true for us!
What to bring on your hike?
Here is what we would suggest you wear/bring along to be comfortable on your hike:
- An umbrella (not for the rain for the sun!)
- Long sleeve hiking shirt (breathable)
- Long hiking pants (breathable)
- Mosquito bracelets
The hike has very little shade so we suggested many of the above items to keep sun safe on your hike.
What to do next/what is nearby?
The Anhinga Trail is in the exact same area as the Gumbo Limbo Trail (you park in the same carpark to enter)
The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a shorter trail and it is more covered from the sun.
If you arrive in the heat of the day we would suggest doing the Gumbo Limbo Trail first and then moving on to the Anhinga Trail.
The Everglades is not far from the Florida Keys. If you visit in the morning you can easily still make the scenic drive to Key Largo which has awesome activities including some of the best snorkeling in the US, nice free beaches and yummy Key Lime Pie!
Anhinga Trail vs Shark Valley
Anhinga Trail and Shark Valley trails are the two most popular trails in the Everglades National Park.
Which to pick? It depends it you want to travel by tram/bike or foot.
Anhinga Trail is much better for walking than Shark Valley. We also saw more animals on this trail.
Parking at the Anhinga Trail
There is a big parking lot at the start of the trail so you should have no trouble finding a park.
To access this trail you will need an Everglades Pass which costs $25 USD for a week (per vehicle). We purchased the $80 USD yearly pass which gives us access to all National Parks for a year. Pretty good value if you ask me.
If you take an airboat tour before entering into the National Park gates, you will need to pay a $6 USD National Park fee to the airboat operator.
This can be deducted off the price of your pass when you enter through the National Park gates.
Where to stay in the Everglades?
You are able to camp inside the Everglades in the Flamingo Campground.
As it was my birthday when we visited, we decided to be a bit more comfortable in the heat and stayed in the closest town: Homestead.
If you are looking for a nice option in Homestead which won’t break the bank but is very comfortable and clean, check out where we stayed here.
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