Hiking in the Northernmost Florida Keys
Other popular options in the area include the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, which is especially popular among birdwatchers, and Windley Key Fossil Reef State Park, where budding geologists will find some interesting sites. The nature walk includes many informative signs about the fossilized coral and how they developed.
Hikers seeking a more strenuous experience can secure backcountry permits for Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park at John Pennekamp State Park. With this pass, individuals can access miles of less-developed trails and become a little more intimate with nature. However, these trails may become impassible at times due to weather damage.
Hiking in the Middle Florida Keys
The Middle Keys have some of the most popular trails in the entire area. Just south of Islamorada is the entrance to Long Key State Park, which has two popular trails. The Golden Orb Trail takes hikers through a mangrove swamp and then out onto a stretch of arid coastline before circling back through a tropical hammock and a mangrove forest. The Layton Trail, which is much shorter, takes individuals to a less explored and less developed part of the island. Here, people will readily encounter a number of wading birds. The path loops individuals out the Florida Bay before taking them back into a hammock.
Outside of Marathon is Curry Hammock State Park, which overlaps a bit with the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and winds from the ocean toward the Florida Bay. The path has become popular due to its native thatch palms and dense mangrove forests. Another popular destination located nearby is Crane Point Hammock. A part of a museum, it has great information about the Florida Keys ecosystem posted along the trail.
Moreover, individuals may want to walk along the Pigeon Key Bridge, also known as the old Seven Mile Bridge, although it is not what one traditionally think of as a hike. Some spots along the bridge can be rather rough, but remain passable. The bridge, which no longer functions as an active roadway, takes visitors to the tiny island of Pigeon Key.
Hiking in the Lower Florida Keys
Going further south on Big Pine Key, visitors will find the National Key Deer Refuge. They can visit the deer and then explore the Watson Trail and the Blue Hole, an old quarry that is now home to birds, alligators, and other wildlife. The Jack C. Watson Nature Trail, which starts at the Blue Hole, is a leisurely, but worthwhile walk. From here, experienced hikers can make their way on foot to Key West.
Once in Key West, individuals can explore the Fort Zachary Taylor trails, which are unlike anything else in the Keys. The area has the furthest south hiking trails in the continental United States. The fort’s trails take people around amazing pieces of historic architecture and provide them with photo-worthy glimpses of the water around the island. The Sand Hog Trail, Fort View Trail, and the walking tour converge into one long path around the fort and the surrounding areas. Along this route, individuals have captured pictures of rare birds that are not found anywhere else in the United States.