To get an up close and personal view of wildlife in the Everglades, particularly the bird life, the Anhinga Trail is one of the premier wetland trail in the National Park Service. A self-guided walk of about .8 miles (1200 meters) round trip, the trail is easily completed in about 45 minutes. The paved boardwalk curves through Taylor Slough, one of the few waterways that retain water year-round, making it particularly attractive to a variety of wildlife.
The saw-grass marsh is teeming with an abundance of Everglades residents, including alligators, turtles, anhingas (a type of water bird found in the Everglades; the name means snake bird or devil bird), herons, cormorants, egrets and many other birds. Because the boardwalk allows visitors to wander among the wildlife, it consequently makes the animals and birds less afraid of humans, allowing closer viewing of alligators, anhingas and other native species.
Exploring the Anhinga Trail also allows guests to view the flora of the Everglades, from the saw-grass prairies towards the end of the trail to the pond apples, a native tree that has apples that appeal to wildlife, but not humans. If you have a limited amount of time, walking the Anhinga Trail is a must-do for wildlife viewing and for a taste of all that the Everglades has to offer.
The Anhinga Trail starts from the Royal Palm Visitor Center, which is four miles (six km) from the main park entrance and the Ernest Coe Visitor Center. The best time to view wildlife of the avian variety is during the winter, but it’s easier to spot alligators during the drier summer months. Be sure to wear plenty of bug spray and stay hydrated during the hot, humid days. The trail is wheelchair accessible; bicycles are prohibited.