December 2016 – We visited the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails on a short stop in the Everglades on our way south. Entrance into the Everglades National Park is quite steep, at $25 per vehicle. The entrance fee is good for 7 days and covers all of the entrances, however, so it is a good deal if visiting more than just one area of the park.
Both the Anhina Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail begin behind the Royal Palm Visitor Center. We arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday and found the parking lot to only be about a third full. The vultures are thieves in this area and will damage vehicles trying to break in. The park provides tarps to cover vehicles while in the parking lot.
The visitor center has a water fountain, small gift shop, and restrooms (real toilets, not compost). We first
set off down the Anhinga Trail, which is only about 0.8 miles in length roundtrip. The trail shortly turns into a board walk which allows visitors to walk above the marsh.
We spotted our first alligator on the trail just before the boardwalk. It was partly on the trail, partly in the grass on the side, just resting. We continued onto the boardwalk and began seeing many different birds, mostly anhinga. We only saw a couple more alligators during our time here, and they were both very comfortable in their resting spots.
After the Anhinga Trail, we crossed over to the Gumbo Limbo Trail. This trail is only 0.4 miles in length and travels through a heavily wooded area. The trail is named after the gumbo limbo trees that create the hammock over the trail. Royal palms and several other plants surround the trail as well.
If visiting, be sure to wear bugspray, especially on the Gumbo Limbo Trail! The mosquitoes were in full force from the time that we entered the darkened woods. We expected to see more wildlife among the trails, more like we did at Shark Valley. We were also a little disappointed by the short lengths of the trails. Still a great place to visit if already paying the entrance fee to visit a different area of the Everglades, though.