Bear Lake Trail at Flamingo

Short hike through woodlands and past mangroves

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The Bear Lake Trail has 2 possible trailheads. Where you start depends on whether the Bear Lake access road is open. (See Flamingo trails map)

Your access is via Bear Lake Road. Coming from the park’s main entrance, Bear Lake Road located on the right about 2 miles north of the Flamingo Visitor Center. If the road is closed due to heavy rains, park on the side but do not block the entrance. The road typically is closed typically from June through mid-October or November.

If you have to walk Bear Lake Road to reach the trailhead, you will be paralleling Buttonwood Canal, which was dredged to create a channel from Flamingo to Coot Bay. The limestone pulled out of the ground to make the waterway became the roadbed for Bear Lake Road.

From its junction with Bear Lake Road, the Bear Lake Trail runs for 1.7 miles each way. First, the trail passes through a dense hardwood hammock mixed with mangroves and 30 other different tree species, an excellent spot for woodland birds.

The trail currently is not being maintained because the area has critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort, a small herb in the sunflower family with bluish-purple flowers. It is found only in the Everglades and some islands in the Florida Keys.

As you walk, the Bear Lake Canal will be on your right. The canal provides access to Bear Lake, your destination. At several points along the way, and especially near the end, the mangroves crowd the trail and form almost a thick canopy.

The hike ends on Bear Lake at a small beach of marl (lime rich mud). If you’re in luck, the trees will be filled with white egrets. And in the water? Alligators, of course.

Then, it’s time to retrace your steps.

At A Glance

Everglades National Park

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