Experience The Fire Prairie Trail In Big Cypress National Preserve

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On our January 2020 trip to Big Cypress we hiked the swampy part of the Fire Prairie Trail. Then this year, 2021, we hiked a little further out into the prairie part of it, still on the trail though.

I still haven’t hiked the entire Fire Prairie Trail, but I really enjoyed the part we saw and it seems like the section I haven’t hiked looks pretty similar to what I did, so I’m not super worried that I haven’t done it all yet.

We go there enough, so I’m not worried I won’t see it. The first little pit of the trail. about 3/4 of a mile is swampy then the rest is open prairie. There isn’t much wildlife in the swampy part but it is good for admiring plants.

On that first part though, we did see a raccoon on the side of the trail running into the swamp, which, let me tell you, I would not want to be a raccoon in the swamp.

We also saw some Florida panther tracks which is always exciting. If you’ve been here before, you probably know I’m terrified of mountain lions even though I know I don’t really need to be because the chances of anything happening is so rare.

But I’m not afraid of Florida panthers. Which doesn’t make sense because they’re literally the same animal, though a little smaller, just with a different name. I’m sure I would be terrified to see one in person on a trail, but it would be so cool!

Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen one, just their tracks a few times. I also think it’s really funny that there is just a random outhouse along the trail.

We hiked a little ways along the prairie section just to the first cypress strand on the right side of the trail. There was a little palm on the opposite side of the trail we hung out under for some shade while we waited for the light to improve.

While we sat there, a man and his son came down the trail and we talked to them for a while. Turns out they were from Gainesville, or at least lived there for a while!

First cypress strand on the right of the trail

It’s crazy how much you run into people from the same place, whether it’s Florida or Wisconsin. After hanging out for a while, chatting for a bit, and getting some pictures, we headed back out.

While this isn’t my favorite trail in the area, I do like it and would recommend it if you like Florida prairie scenery and want an easy hike of moderate length. It may not be the most remarkable hike in Florida, but it’s enjoyable and easy.

Where is the Fire Prairie trailhead?

The Fire Prairie Trail is 40 minutes from Everglades City down dirt roads. They are easy dirt roads though and unless it’s been super, super rainy, your car can probably make it. It’s a super easy drive and you’re kind of driving through what you’ll be hiking through.

How long is the Fire Prairie trail?

The whole thing is 4.5 miles round-trip, the first 3/4 of a mile is swampy and the rest is just prairie. There are only 15 feet of elevation gain so it’s pretty easy.

Once you’re out of the swampy part, there’s pretty much no shade so the hardest part is just all the sun, which gets hot. So while it’s not the shortest trail in the area, it is super easy.

How long do you need for the Fire Prairie hike?

One hour for the hiking should be plenty if you just do the beginning, maybe 2 if you do the whole hike.

Including drive time to the trailhead from Everglades City, it’ll probably be about 3 hours if you just do part of the hike, maybe 4 if you do the whole thing.

What to bring on the Fire Prairie hike

Dry bag – This is a must if you’re kayaking or canoeing.  You’ll want to keep your phone and camera dry while you’re on the water.  Here is a set with three different sizes.

Bug spray – You’ll want to bring this no matter when you visit, but especially if you want to go in the summer.  I like the Ben’s bug spray as well as the Off! Deep Woods.

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch a lot AND it’s reef safe! If you’re sensitive to fragrance though, it’s not a good choice. I also like the same one but specifically for your face.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes, or a visor.  A baseball hat should be fine but I like my giant sun hat, too.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.

Headlamp – I tend to carry my headlamp around all the time when we’re hiking, just in case. 

Can you spot the frog!?

Is the Fire Prairie hike worth it?

I think so! Like a lot of the hikes in the Big Cypress area, it’s not the most exciting scenery, mostly prairies, but even just the beginning section through the woods and to the first strand of cypress trees right next to the trail is worth it.

The first 3/4 of a mile are swampy then it opens up into prairie. There isn’t tons of wildlife along here, we did see a raccoon and Florida panther tracks though. It’s more of a scenery hike which is pretty simple and pretty consistent in this area, but I liked it.

This is a great hike to do for sunrise and easier if you’re camping in Big Cypress vs staying in Everglades City.

Florida posts you may also enjoy:

Have you hiked Fire Prairie trail in Florida? What did you think of it? Do you want to hike it? What is your favorite hike near Everglades City?

2 thoughts on “Experience The Fire Prairie Trail In Big Cypress National Preserve

  1. Those panther tracks look so tiny compared to the mountain lion tracks we’re used to seeing in the Black Hills. And don’t be afraid of the big cats, they don’t like us. We stink like shampoo and laundry detergent. Deer are way yummier and smell much better. 🙂

    1. I think those were bobcat ones or something, I forgot to add the panther ones when I made the post hahah. Long day, I guess, but they’re in there now and much bigger!

      I never thought of mountain lions in the Black Hills before. It makes sense though. I have a book, Path of the Puma, that I need to read all about them and where they live and what not. I read all kinds of books about them hoping it will make me less afraid haha

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