Anhinga Trail, Royal Palm Visitor Center, Everglades National Park, Florida
Anhinga Trail - 0.8 miles
Royal Palm Visitor Center
|Round-Trip Length:||0.8 miles (Wheelchair Accessible)|
|Elevation Change:||Nominal Elevation Change|
Anhinga Trail - 0.8 Miles Round-Trip
The Anhinga Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Everglades National Park, celebrated for its exceptional biological diversity. This short, wheelchair accessible trail leaves from the Royal Palm Visitor Center and showcases a grand saw grass marsh prairie, one of the park's 9 distinct habitats.
The vast saw grass marsh prairie, also called a marl prairie, is the lifeline of the Everglades. This ecosystem is where the prairie meets the wetlands. The predominant plant life of a marl prairie is grass. Saw grass is the most common species of the prairie while others include white-top sedge, muhly grass, spike rush and beak rush. Saw grass itself is actually a sedge and not a grass as commonly thought.
The Seminole called this habitat pa-hay-okee or grassy waters, referring to the slough which runs through the saw grass prairie. The slough is a wide sheet of slow moving fresh water which makes its way southwest towards the Gulf of Mexico. During the winter season, birds descend upon the slough to wade, feed and seek refuge from cold temperatures.
Clearly marked behind the Royal Palm concession area, the trail follows a series of raised boardwalks that lead visitors through some of the deeper waters in the park. Wildlife is plentiful on the Anhinga Trail and seeing an alligator is almost a certainty. In addition to alligators, the trail plays home to countless water birds including the trail's namesake, the Anhinga.
The Anhinga, also called a snakebird due to its long curved neck, is a swimming bird who hunts fish underwater. While not the quickest swimmer in the slough, the Anhinga targets slower moving fish, stalking its prey underwater before spearing the fish with its long sharp beak. It then returns to the surface, removes the fish from its beak and always eats the fish head first. After hunting underwater, the Anhinga?s feathers become to wet and heavy to fly. Therefore, it is common to see the Anhinga drying its wings atop the brush.
Aside from the Anhinga, the trail is also home to birds including the Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Double Breasted Cormorant, White Ibis and Woodstork among others. In the early morning, gangs of Turkey Vultures will congregate along the Anhinga Trail, offering visitors a chance to see these efficient raptors up close. Turkey Vultures play a crucial role in cleansing the environment. Because they feed on carcasses, they remove the threat of widespread disease; assisting nature in the cycle of life.
The Anhinga Trail is self-guiding, and interpretive signs are placed at ecological points if interest. Wildlife viewing is best at dawn and dusk as the animals tend to hide during the heat of the day.
For a more satisfying experience, purchase a wildlife viewing guide at the Royal Palm store. It is fun and interesting to match up what you see with photos on the wildlife guide.
- N25 22.980 W80 36.590 — 0.0 Miles: Royal Palms Visitor Center
- The Anhinga Trail contains a high concentration of wildlife and is recommended for people who are short on time, but want to experience the fauna of the Everglades
- This trail is wheelchair accessible
- There are bathroom facilities and a store for sundries located at the Royal Palm Visitor Center
- The Gumbo Limbo Trail, located next to the Anhinga Trail is equally worthwhile and showcases a Hardwood Hammock ecosystem
Camping and Backpacking Information
There is no backcountry camping on the Anhinga Trail.
There is no fishing on the Anhinga Trail.
Rules and Regulations
Directions to Trailhead
The Royal Palm Visitor Center is four miles (6 km) from the main park entrance or Ernest Coe Visitor Center. Turn left at the sign for the Royal Palm Visitor Center and take the road until it dead ends at the parking lot. The trail begins just behind the center itself.
Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034-6733