“A longer trek through some of the most beautiful stretches of Pineland in the Everglades.”
— Zander Göpfert
Birding · Wildflowers · Wildlife
While the full route may be too much for youngsters, stopping off or turning around at one of various picnic/camping spots can provide a unique experience in the Pinelands.
This route connects three doubletrack trails to provide a great shuttle option through the Long Pine Key area. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the Long Pine Key Picnic Area just after mile three. This hike can be traveled in either direction and it is highly recommended to leave a second vehicle at whichever parking area you use as your endpoint. Otherwise, head back along the Main Park Road for 4.5 miles to connect back to your vehicle.
The Pineland Tour is a beautiful doubletrack route in the Everglades area that provides visitors with a scenic escape into one of its characteristic natural habitats: the Pineland.
To access this hike, use the roadside Gate 2 Trail
Parking Area. Head out on the Gate 2 Trail
for 1.3 miles and look for a right hand turn onto the Gate 3 Trail
. This trail will head west for just over 1.5 miles until it comes to the Main Park Road.
Across the road marks the starting point for the Long Pine Key Nature Trail
, however, turn left onto the Main Park Road to continue for a half mile to the Long Pine Key Picnic Area and Campground. This is a great spot to relax and enjoy some snacks and water before carrying on.
From the Picnic Area, find the Long Pine Key Walking Trail
on the north side of the road, just before the loop. This trail leads back to the Long Pine Key Nature Trail
. Turn left here and stay on the Long Pine Key Nature Trail
for the duration of the hike, passing three spur trails on the way.
In order from the Picnic Area, you'll pass the Long Pine Key Nature Trail Spur
on the right, Gate 5 Spur on the left, and finally the Gate 10 Trail
on the right, which indicates that you have around 1.75 miles until you reach the endpoint at Pine Glades Lake and the Long Pine Key Trail Parking Area - West.
Flora & Fauna
Pines, saw palmettos, and over 200 species of tropical flora are abundant along this trail. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of the fleeting Florida panther.
Distinctive from the hardwood hammocks and grassy wetlands of the surrounding area, the Pineland habitat is unusual in that the trees here flourish on the seemingly impenetrable bedrock limestone that underlies them. Due to these areas of bedrock, this ground sits marginally higher than the surrounding landscape, allowing the area to drain properly and support more diverse, dry-land plant species as a result. Popular plant species include pines, saw palmettos, as well as over 200 species of tropical plants.