Trail conditions at the newly-reopened Bird Rookery Swamp

Oh, hello people. Where’ve you been?

Thank you everyone for all of the happy comments on our blog, in our inboxes, in private messages an Facebook and in comments on social media. We’re just as excited as you are that Bird Rookery Swamp is finally open!

The closure wasn’t just hard on staff, or our visitors. It was really hard on our volunteers. Many of them started volunteering with us because they visited Bird Rookery Swamp so often and feel a connection to that trail system and the flora and fauna that call it home.

As soon as it opened, our BRS regulars hit the trails and sent us happy selfies, trail condition reports and photos.

Volunteer Peter Davis, an avid cyclist who leads a private buided bike tour that is exclusively offered at our silent auction each year, sent us this trail conditions report aimed mainly at cyclists – but it’s great information for those hikers that like to do the whole almost-13 mile loop.

A summary of Peter Davis’ report from 3/12/2018
–  Work by the South Florida Water Management District’s contractor has improved portions of the trail that needed attention prior to the hurricane. 
–  The trail is in relatively good condition for cycling up until the fork at approximately mile 2.
–  Around mile 3 and onward the trail gets softer and there are sections of tall grass and other plants that make it hard to see the trail below the vegetation in some areas.
–  There are no places that require a water crossing, no large trees down, and no places where the mud is too deep the get through.  
–  Accomplished cyclists with wider tires on their bike should be able to do the whole trail without stopping or dismounting if they choose to do so.  
–  As usual, there are many alligators sunning themselves on the trail.  Note from staff: always keep a safe distance from wildlife; to read more on ethically viewing wildlife, visit
–  The wildlife viewing seems much better than in the past both in terms of quantity and quality.
–  Between mile 8 and 9.5 there are some deeper mud/water holes on the trail that are hard to see in the vegetation so please use caution.
–  Anyone planning to turn around should go counter-clockwise, as the most difficult trail sections start about a mile to the left of the fork.
Don’t forget you can sign up for our free weekly guided walks at Bird Rookery Swamp, offered each Wednesday at 9 a.m. through the end of March! Sign up on And we look forward to seeing you on the trails!

6 Replies to “Trail conditions at the newly-reopened Bird Rookery Swamp”

  1. We just walked the complete trail this morning (Sunday, from 9am to 1pm). The conditions were great, completely dry throughout with no muddy areas. It seemed to have been mowed from mile 6 to 8 but the rest of the trail was easily walkable even where the grass hasn’t been cut. The areas which we had to jump over to cross water or mud have been filled in which makes it a pleasure to walk on!

    Tons of wildlife as usual, lots of alligators and birds there today.

    Swamp people, you have done a fantastic job, keep up the great work, we’ll do it again next week!

    1. I’m sorry to say no. We believe she was displaced during Hurricane Irma and another larger alligator has moved into that territory.

  2. Just rode the entire trail on a fat tired bike on December 24th 2020. An incredible experience. Counted somewhere between 22 and 25 alligators sunning themselves on the tram. Holy moly- some of them were monsters! Not one of them made a movement towards me (or any movement at all), as I rode by them a couple of feet away. At that mile 8-9.5 area mentioned in the report at the beginning of this thread, there was serious mud and streams and puddles (up to 2 ft. Deep in spots and 50 ft long. One cannot skirt them-all are rideable to some degree. You will be soaking wet from knees down. You are basically stream walking/riding for that interval. Serious fun though! Make sure you go counter clockwise on the loop so that you’re heading to the exit once soaked.

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