Gator Hook Trail Hike in Big Cypress

Published: 05/13/15 9:17 PM in National, North America, Travel.

As soon as Kevin and I realized we would no longer be living in Miami in the span of a month, it quickly became urgent to tie up any loose ends we might have pending in the area. There are quite a few things we never got a chance to do and suddenly we had to try to do them all! Well of naturally there is not enough time for all that, but we did get to a couple of things on our list all the while bidding farewell to a one of a kind city.

One of the top items on our list was another quick hike out in Big Cypress to say goodbye to the Florida outdoors we have frequented over the past few years. So we decided to head out into Big Cypress National Preserve to stop at the Oasis Visitor Center and do the short hike know as the Gator Hook Trail.

Although this hike was short, only a 3-mile loop, there is very little canopy coverage. So on a typical Florida day, it gets very hot on the trail! After only about an hour and a half out in the sun, the three of us were all extremely exhausted from the sun exposure and ready to head in. So bring lots of water and hat!

A sunny day in Florida spent hiking in Big Cypress National Preserve along the Gator Hook Trail.

Kevin Banogon, Alicia Doroteo, and Meredith Lambert Banogon hike in Big Cypress as they complete the Tamiami Triathlon.

Alicia Doroteo and Meredith Lambert Banogon hike along the Gator Hook Trail in Florida at Big Cypress National Preserve.

Completing the Tamiami Triathlon along the Gator Hook Trail

Besides the constant desire to do something outside, the other main reason Kevin and I ventured into Big Cypress for this particular hike was to complete our final leg of the Tamiami Triathlon before we moved out of Miami. Last year, before it got too hot outside, we completed the 15-mile bike loop along Shark Valley and the 3.5-mile canoes trip through the Ten Thousand Islands.

The Tamiami Triathlon’s purpose is to get people outside and exposed to Florida’s National Parks. The three sections of the event are meant to provide a look into the variety of outdoor activities available in the heart of South Florida. These events include; biking the 15-mile loop from the Shark Valley Visitors Center, hike 3-mile loop from Oasis Visitor Center, and kayak/canoe the 3.5-mile route from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades city.

Although the initiative needs more publicity as a whole, it is a great guide to what there is to do in both Big Cypress National Preserve and The Everglades National Park. Kevin and I had a great time completing all three of the events and might not have even known a couple of them existed if it wasn’t for the Tamiami Triathlon!

Oh, and upon completion, you get a nifty sticker!

Kevin Banogon enjoys being surrounded by the pine trees in Big Cypress National Preserve on the Gator Hook Trail.

The scorched trail known as Gator Hook Trail surrounded by the thick growth of Florida outdoors.

Kevin Banogon, Meredith Lambert Banogon, and Alicia Doroteo complete the Tamiami Triathlon on the Gator Hook Trail.

The thick growth of sawgrass and palmettos along a Florida trail in Big Cypress National Park.

Florida Trails: A Hike in Big Cypress

Hiking the trails in Florida is a much different experience than throughout the majority of the United States. Besides the intense heat and relentless humidity, the trails weave through thick palmettos and have little-to-no elevation change at all. The consistently flat terrain definitely makes the entire hike easier, but also makes the stunning views associated with hiking almost impossible.

However even without the promise of high elevation views hiking the Florida trails, especially the ones found in Big Cypress National Preserve, is a worthwhile experience. A hike into the wilds of Big Cypress and the Everglades gives visitors a peek into the prehistoric world that still exists in the heart of these areas. Housing flora and fauna that spans from the diverse array of orchids that cling to the cypress trees to the alligators that lurk amongst the cypress knees. This natural habitat is unlike any other in the world.

To get a deeper look into the heart of an old world cypress dome, do a longer swamp hike to the big trees. After just an 8-mile wet hike along uneven limestone will give you a chance to see the old growth cypress trees untouched by loggers.

The hardwood hammock environment in Big Cypress National Preserve during a hike along a Florida Trail.

Alicia Doroteo hikes along the Gator Hook Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve on a sunny Florida day.

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