Collier-Seminole Adventure Trail – One of the best in South Florida
South Florida is not really known for its hiking. With beautiful beaches, amazing swamps, islands, and keys, the area is more inclined for either beach travel or kayaking and canoeing. There are a few spots though where one can hike.
Perhaps the longest trail in the area outside the Florida Trail is the 6.5 mile Adventure Trail in Collier-Seminole State Park. Collier-Seminole is just outside the Everglades, and is practically an extension of the park.
Checking in at the Collier-Seminole Ranger Station
Since I did not have a boat, I was looking to do some hiking. I checked in at the Ranger Station. You need to check in and check out or they will come looking for you. The usage fee is $4.00 for single person vehicle or $5.00 per vehicle if more than one person, but I did not have to pay as I camped the night before and had use of the park until noon. The camping fee is $22.00 a night.
I was told that there were two sections where it was really swampy and the trail would be underwater. This trail is not recommended in the rainy season and after big storms as sections can become waist deep. The rangers will let you know when it is not advised.I was also warned about a black bear and a cub that had been seen in the area.
Déjà vu all over again
I immediately was struck with déjà vu. I realized I had hiked this trail with my parents over 20 years ago. What is more, I had recently sold a picture from this trip to the Textbook company McGraw-Hill who had seen this picture on this post and emailed me to request permission to use in an upcoming new edition of a college biology textbook.
Arriving at the Collier-Seminole Adventure Trail trailhead
I was given the combination of the lock at the parking lot and drove the .7 miles down U.S. 41 to the trailhead (Do not walk this section on the highway as traffic can be dangerous). There were no other cars parked, so it looked like I had the trail to myself except for the black bear and cub, any Florida panthers in the vicinity, and the red-shouldered hawk sitting on the tree.
There has only been one documented black bear attack in Florida and not one Florida panther attack, so I felt completely safe hiking this trail by myself. I felt the odds of being number 2 or number 1 were slim to none. The biggest hiking danger is snakes, but I did not see any on this hike.
Hiking the trail
The trail started out switching off between a savannah with plenty of saw palmettos, cabbage palms, and slash pine trees dotting the landscape and then going into sections of thicker vegetation. It was a good thing I brought my walking stick because just about every place along the trail where trees or plants grew on both sides of the trail, an industrious spider tried to link them with their web. My stick was helpful in cutting these annoyances without doing the “I just walked into a spider web dance.”
After a while, the trail moved into a cypress swamp. The spider webs intensified and the maneuverability became difficult as tree limbs crossed the trail sometimes at waist height. A few times I had to do the limbo. Fortunately, the trail was well marked with orange blazes found in abundance on the trees.
Then I found the wet part of the trail. I brought my L.L. Bean boots to counter the mud. They worked perfectly, and I did not have any problems with water going over my boots and getting my socks wet. I did have a problem with blisters though. I had never walked this far with these boots, and the constant movement sheared the skin off my ankle in parts, but at least my socks were dry.
At one point I came across fresh bear dung, so confirmation of their existence in the vicinity was proved. I did hear a loud crashing at one point, but it was most likely a deer as I did see some white-tailed deer earlier in the hike.
Collier-Seminole Adventure Trail tougher than expected
I can usually hike 6 miles in 2 hours, but the pace on this trail was slow thanks to the wet trail and the obstacles presented by the jungle like environment. Keep this in mind when packing water. I only brought a liter, and I could have used another liter, but with only a 6.5 mile trail it was not a big issue.
Halfway through the trail there is a primitive tent camping spot for those who want a night of true solitude. This would be a great experience to camp out in this remote spot for the night. There is no water, so you would have to pack your water in. You have to register at the Ranger Station to stay here.
I soon returned to my car a lot more tired than I thought I would be. The Adventure Trail was aptly named due to the wet conditions, the constant spider webs, threat of coming across bears, panthers, and snakes, and of course the general hot conditions. Did I mention bugs? They were not as bad as I thought they would be, but they did make an appearance. To state the obvious – bring mosquito repellent.
Tough trail but worth the difficulty
I probably have scared a lot of people from taking this trail, but I hope not. It is definitely worth the difficulty. Just do not underestimate the trail and think it will be easy since it is only 6.5 miles. I would not recommend taking young kids on the trail, but children in middle school and beyond can mostly likely handle it depending on their fitness level.
The Florida backcountry in and on the fringes of the Everglades is an unexpectedly beautiful place. What is nice about this trail is you will have solitude as it is not heavily hiked, but it is never too far away from the highway. There are service roads and trails that intersect the trail where you can cut off sections of the hike if it becomes too intense.
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