Long Pine Key: Gate 3 Firebreak Trail
Long Pine Key is the principal upland area of Everglades National Park and encompasses about 20,000 acres of pine rockland habitat interspersed with more than 120 tropical hardwood hammocks. Long Pine Key is periodically bisected by wide swaths of Everglades prairie, often called finger glades, through which water flows during the wet season. The word key in Florida, and cay in the Bahamas (pronounced “key” or “kay”), originally came from cairi, a Lucayan word for “island.” The Lucayans were an Arawak Indian tribe from the Bahamas. This is also the origin of the Spanish cayo, which translates to “a small, low-lying island.” This word aptly fits Long Pine Key, a low-lying island surrounded by water throughout most of the year. The firebreaks (old logging roads) that crisscross Long Pine Key offer easy and scenic getaways for visitors seeking quiet solitude off the beaten path. This hiking trail terminates at a paved road that leads west to the Daniel Beard Research Center, or east to the main road to Royal Palm Hammock. The Long Pine Key Nature Trail is one of the best and little-used trails in Everglades National Park. The trail offers opportunities to explore pine rockland, prairie, and tropical hardwood hammock habitats. White-tailed deer often can be seen on or near the trail, and this is also where a truly fortunate visitor might see a Florida panther. Look for animal tracks in muddy areas, especially where the trail cuts through prairie habitat. Tracks may include deer, raccoons, bobcats, Florida panthers, snakes, alligators, and wading birds. Small oak toads (Bufo quercicus) are common along the trail as well, and these are typically only 1/2 inch to 1 inch long. Explore the open prairies on foot to see an abundance of native wildflowers but be cautious of venomous snakes, especially cottonmouth moccasins around low-lying areas with standing water. SCENIC VALUE: Excellent. Many first-time visitors may find pine rockland habitat monotonous, but this is one of the most floristically diverse habitats in Florida. The prairies may look homogenous too, unless you take the time to walk out into them and do some off-trail exploring.
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Directions to: Long Pine Key: Gate 3 Firebreak Trailprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Easy to moderate|
|Duration||2 to 4 hours|
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