"Homestead Canal" by U.S. National Park Service , public domain

Pineland Biking and Hiking Trails

brochure Pineland Biking and Hiking Trails
Everglades National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Everglades National Park Pineland Hiking and Biking Trails South Florida's pinelands are islands of higher, infrequently flooded ground dotted with dense stands of broad- leaved trees and shrubs and surrounded by thousands of acres of open wet prairies. Most of the pines in this area were logged before the establishment of Everglades National Park in 1947. Roads created by logging, fire roads and old farm access roads have created a 43 mile (69 km) network of paved and primitive trails through the pinelands. Closed to vehicular traffic, most of these trails are simply two ruts in the limestone bedrock. They are ideal for long, leisurely hikes, and a few are open for bicycling. Trail Access The Long Pine Key picnic area, 6 miles (10 km) from the main entrance, provides parking and easy access to the pineland trails. You may also park on road shoulders near the gates where trails meet paved roads. Emergency access to the area may be necessary so please avoid blocking the gates. Hikers can easily get around or under the gates. Many sections of the pineland trail system are not suitable for hiking during the summer months due to abundant mosquitoes and mud. The Old Ingraham Highway is a good alternative with yearround access. This former road is ideal for extended hikes and bike trips. If you wish to walk or bike the entire road, be prepared for a 22 mile (35 km) round trip. Pinelands Ecology The pinelands are the most diverse habitat in Everglades National Park, consisting of an open south Florida slash pine forest with an understory of saw palmetto and over 200 species of subtropical plants. They are also one of the last refuges for the elusive Florida panther. Those fires kept the forest floor clear of fast growing hardwoods that would otherwise overtake and replace the pines, destroying the diversity of the understory. Since many wildfires must now be extinguished for the safety of visitors and local residents, the National Park Service replaces them with prescribed burns when conditions permit safe, manageable fires. Fire is an important force in maintaining the pineland habitat. Historically, fires, ignited by lighting, burned through the pine forests every 4 to 7 years. Wilderness Most pineland trails are within the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness Area. To minimize impact in wilderness areas motorized vehicles, bicycles and pets are not permitted. Bicycles are allowed on paved roads, the Long Pine Key Nature Trail, and the Old Ingraham Highway. Please remember all plants and animals are protected. Disturbing or feeding wildlife is illegal and can be dangerous. Wilderness camping is allowed, but a permit must first be obtained at the park Entrance Station. Please pack out your trash. Printed through the generosity of the Everglades Association EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA Printed 3/2005

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