The chief attraction of Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is the namesake Okaloacoochee Slough: a long, pristine north-south slough that is one of the areas of southwest Florida, outside of the Everglades, still in its pre-Columbian state. Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is also one of the few places in Florida where you can spot the elusive Florida panther. There are several hiking trails in the forest, but on this day, my plan was to simply hike the short nature trail. This trail ends at a boardwalk that provides a great panorama of the slough, where you can spot alligators in the water and deer splashing through the wetlands. This hike occurred on Saturday, July 9th, 2016. My plan was to hike the short nature trail to the end of the boardwalk and back.
R/T Length of Trail: 0.4 Miles
Duration of Hike: 0:25
Type of Hike: Out and Back
Difficulty Rating: 1 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: Minimal
Cons: A short stretch of trail just before the boardwalk might get flooded after long periods of rain
Points of Interest: Views of Okaloacoochee Slough from the boardwalk
Trail Blaze Color(s): None
Best Season(s) to Hike: Year-round, although a small part of the approach to the boardwalk may be wet during the height of the wet season or after prolonged rains
Fees: There is a $2 day use fee for Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest.
Beginning Point: Okaloacoochee Slough Nature Trailhead
Directions from Immokalee, FL: From the intersection of Main Street (FL Route 29) and 1st Street, follow FL Route 29 North for 13.2 miles, Then, turn right onto Keri Road, which is also County Road 832. Continue on County Road 832 for another 3.9 miles until you reach Sic Island Road, one of the roads into Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest, to the right. Turn right, pay your fee, and drive for a short distance along the dirt road to the parking area for the nature trail, located to the left of the road.
Click here for more information and to download this trail map to view in Garmin Basecamp.
After hiking at Bird Rookery Swamp earlier in the day, I decided that I still had enough time to do another short hike. The Okaloacoochee Slough Nature Trail, while short, proved to be a good place to see more alligators and more swampland,
The nature trail begins my heading eastward away from the circular gravel parking area. The trailhead is simply marked by the sign "Foot Path". The nature trail remains dry in a palm hammock as it moves southeast towards Okaloachee Slough. At 0.15 miles, the nature trail reaches the edge of the slough and wetlands. The boardwalk begins a short distance ahead, but between the edge of the hammock and the boardwalk, there is a wet area. There is an elevated area of gravel that was placed here in order to keep the passage dry - however, the water was nearly over the top on my visit here, and there were signs that showed that this area has been underwater before.
After this, reach the boardwalk and walk along it to its end at 0.2 miles. There are panoramic views of the slough in all directions. Upon my arrival, a herd of deer was jumping through the shallow waters of the wetlands, running away into the forest. As I was returning from the boardwalk, I noticed a pair of baby alligators in the water, keeping a close eye on me.
After viewing the slough from the boardwalk, retrace your steps along the nature trail and return to the trailhead at 0.4 miles, concluding this short jaunt.
0.0 - Okaloacoochee Slough Nature Trailhead
0.15 - The slough
0.2 - End of boardwalk
0.4 - Okaloacoochee Slough Nature Trailhead
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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