The Gumbo Limbo Trail also leaves from the Royal Palm Visitor Center. This short .04-mile walk is a land-based loop through a dense moist forest that is truly jungle-like.
The trail is named for the tropical gumbo limbo tree that grows only in South Florida, Cuba and Hispaniola.
The tree has a distinctive red bark that looks like it is constantly peeling; some park rangers call it the “tourist tree” in honor of sunburned visitors.
Southwest Florida’s Calusa Indians used sap from the gumbo limbo tree to ensnare mockingbirds and cardinals. The birds were placed is small wooden cages and taken by canoe to Cuba to be used for trade.
The tree branches of the Gumbo Limbo Trail are among the most reliable places to look for Liguus tree snails. However, even a digital camera will require a good flash here because of the thick overhead cover.
The trail wanders among ferns, orchids, air plants, and long trailing woody vines (you can’t help but think of Tarzan), all the classic characteristics of a lush Caribbean forest.
In places, a thick canopy high overhead dims the sunlight and seems to entrap the humidity. Bring bug spray.