5 min read

Miami's Wild Side: Top 10 Trails for Nature Enthusiasts

Ever wondered what's beyond Miami's sandy beaches? Lace up and let's uncover ten trails where wild encounters await at every turn—nature's own version of Miami's famous nightlife!

Tobi Miles
August 4, 2022

Before 1896, when Julia Tuttle first settled on the land that we know as Miami, the area was not a tropical paradise, but an ecological wonder. The area we know today was once dense and swampy grasslands that created a unique and healthy habitat for South Florida's native wildlife and flora.

Luckily for us, the settlers of Miami recognized the importance of the natural ecosystem. Through hundreds of years of development, Miami has established opportunities to not only preserve its natural beauty - but to experience it.

The vibrant and sunny city of Miami is a popular destination for snowbirds and spring-breakers alike. With its year-round tropical climate and endless opportunities for fun under the sun, Miami attracts visitors from around the globe. While a walk on Miami Beach is a top-rated activity on any traveler’s bucket list, underneath the tropical paradise is a landscape of native fauna unlike anywhere else in the world.

Only a short drive from Miami is Everglades National Park, a subtropical marsh that is less than one foot deep, but 50 miles long. To this day, Ecologists study the uniqueness of these habitats because the environment is so mystically foreign.

Around the stunning city of Miami is a network of one-of-a-kind hiking trails that are sometimes overlooked by the average tourist, curious travelers are rewarded with incredible journeys through natural Florida, as it once was.

Here is a guide to the 10 best hiking trails in and around Miami.

1. Shark Valley Trail

Credit: Jmpncsu / TripAdvisor

Directions: From Miami, head west on FL-836 W for 12.4 miles and use the left two lanes to take the NW 137th Avenue N exit. Drive for 0.3 miles to merge onto FL-825 and continue for 1.1 miles.

Turn right onto US Highway 41 W and drive for 21.8 miles and turn left onto Shark Valley Loop Road in Everglades National Park. After 0.4 miles, the parking area for this trail will be on your left.

The Shark Valley Trail is an ecological gem in Everglades National Park. The trail travels along boardwalks that connect islands of marsh prairie lands. The trail follows a natural canal that acts as the primary source for blue herons, great egrets, and alligators – all of which can be seen with near certainty.

The path will eventually leave the boardwalk and open into the grassy prairie. The back end of the trail is wide and exposed, but the predatory wildlife of the Everglades rarely leaves the early sections along the canal.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 15.8 Miles

Elevation Gain: 22 Feet

2. Matheson Hammock Bike Path and Lagoon Loop

Credit: David Moore / Flickr

Directions: From South Miami, head southwest on S Bayshore Drive for 3.8 miles and turn left onto Main Highway. Drive for 1.0 miles and turn left onto SW 37th Ave and continue for 0.3 miles. Turn right onto Ingraham Highway and drive for 0.5 miles before turning right onto Ridgewood Road.

Continue for 0.2 miles and turn left onto SW 42nd Avenue. Drive for 0.2 miles and take the second exit at the traffic circle onto Old Cutler Road. After 1.8 miles, turn left into Matheson Park and the parking area will be on your left.

The Matheson Hammock Bike Path and Lagoon Loop is a perfect representation of the eastern coast of Florida before settlers called Miami their home. Just south of Miami, this trail is dense with native Florida vegetation and tightly seesaws through the ancient wilderness.

Along the pathway are unique remnants of historic rock pavilions whose features are now draped in moss throughout the structures. Much of the trail is along the paved bike path but be sure to explore the 1.4-mile offshoot that leads into the woods.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 3.2 MilesElevation Gain: 22 Feet

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Everglades National Park

3. Oleta River State Park Loop

Credit: lmatuchita / TripAdvisor

Directions: From North Miami Beach, head south on NE 19th Avenue for 0.5 miles and turn left onto FL-826 E. Drive for 1.6 miles and turn right onto NE 34th Avenue.

Continue for 0.5 miles and turn right onto NE 151st Street into Oleta River State Park followed by an immediate left. Merge onto Interama Boulevard and after 1.3 miles, the parking area will be on your left.

The Oleta River State Park Loop is beautifully secluded in densely populated North Miami Beach. The trail through the park is a welcomed escape into the natural landscape of this rare ecosystem. The hike follows along the winding Oleta River that runs the length of the park.

With the densely concentrated forest comes unique opportunities for wildlife viewing - the seabirds from Biscayne Bay make this forest their home.

Hiker Beware! The river and its offshoots are the ideal habitats for the Florida alligator. The intimidating reptiles are generally harmless, but if you have children, travel in groups and keep some distance from the murky shoreline.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.0 Miles

Elevation Gain: 26 Feet

4. Anhinga Trail

Credit: Leo Boudreau / Flickr

Directions: From Homestead, head south on SW 18th Ave for 3.2 miles and turn right onto State Highway 9336. Drive for 7.8 miles and turn left into Everglades National Park. After 1.9 miles, the parking area for this trail will be on your left.

If you were interested in seeing native Florida wildlife without the effort of a long hike, the Anhinga Trail is for you. The Anhinga Trail is a short boardwalk trail in Everglades National Park that travels directly into the heart of the action.

The surrounding sawgrass marsh is the ideal habitat for large birds, such as anhingas (a slender waterbird), herons, and egrets. The Anhinga Trail is also the best opportunity to see alligators and turtles, as they live here in abundance.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 0.8 MilesElevation Gain: 0 Feet

Related Read: 50 Romantic Things to Do in Miami, FL

5. Robin's Birding Trail and Bill Baggs Lighthouse Loop

Credit: Julie Osborn / AllTrails

Directions: From downtown Miami, take US-Highway 1 southwest for 1.2 miles and turn left onto Rickenbacker Causeway. Drive for 0.8 miles and merge onto FL-913 S and continue for 5.0 miles. Merge onto Crandon Boulevard and drive for 2.3 miles. Merge onto Cape Florida Park Boulevard and after 0.3 miles, the parking area will be on the right.

Robin’s Birding Trail and Bill Baggs Lighthouse Loop is a beautifully scenic hike in picturesque Key Biscayne. The birdwatching along this trail is unmatched. As you reach the one-mile marker, there is a raised clearing that is a known stopping point for migratory birds during their seasonal journeys.

The hike merges with a coastal trail and leads to No Name Harbor. Walk through the field of mangroves until reaching a lookout point where, in the distance, see the stilts that mark underwater Biscayne National Park.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.0 Miles

Elevation Gain: 9 Feet

6. Crandon Beach Walk

Credit: Ericabo7 / TripAdvisor

Directions: From downtown Miami, take US-Highway 1 southwest for 1.2 miles and turn left onto Rickenbacker Causeway. Continue for 0.8 miles and merge onto FL 913 S. After 3.0 miles, turn right into Crandon Park Marina, the parking area for this trail.

The Crandon Beach Walk is a unique trail that connects Miami Beach with Bear Cut Reserve. Bear Cat Reserve is a protected natural ecosystem that resembles the native Florida habitat. The paced trail follows famous Miami Beach through family-friendly playgrounds with the waves as your soundtrack.

Before reaching the Bear Cat Reserve, keep an eye out towards the beach, as there are remnants of a fossil mangrove reef. To get a better understanding of the history of this coast, stop by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Nature Center along the beach portion of the hike.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 6.1 MilesElevation Gain: 13 Feet

Related Read: New York to Miami Road Trip!

7. Virginia Key Trail

Credit: Tsur Yahav / AllTrails

Directions: From downtown Miami, take US-Highway 1 southwest for 1.2 miles and turn left onto Rickenbacker Causeway. Drive for 0.8 miles and merge onto FL-913 S and continue for 2.0 miles.

Turn onto Sewage Plant Road and drive for 0.5 miles and merge onto Arthur Lamb Junior Road. Continue for 1.3 miles and the parking area for this trail will be on your left.

The Virginia Key Trail is a stunning loop trail on the rustic north end of this treasured key. The hike is along a level dirt path that wanders through the lush grasslands along the shores of Biscayne Bay.

This trail is also a popular technical mountain biking trail. The hike leads to quick and tall banks of compacted soil, that while easy on the feet, make for perfect biking conditions. Try to remain single file with guests, these adrenaline junkies can come out of nowhere!

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 4.0 Miles

Elevation Gain: 91 Feet

8. Tropical Park Loop

Credit: Nathaniel Hooper / AllTrails

Directions: From South Miami, head west onto FL-986 W for 1.6 miles and make a slight right to merge onto FL-826 N. Drive for 0.9 miles and take the FL-976 W exit. Continue for 1.2 miles and use any lane to turn left onto FL-976 W. After 0.4 miles, turn left into Tropical Park and follow the signs for the Tropical Park Loop.

The Tropical Park Loop is a family-friendly hike to enjoy without traveling too far from the city. The urban hike wanders through beautiful sections of Tropical Park along a comfortably paved pathway.

The path leads from shady, low-hanging trees to the shores of a calm lake in the middle of Miami. Due to the trail’s minimal elevation gain, this walk is suitable for everyone – including strollers and wheelchairs.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 3.7 MilesElevation Gain: 22 Feet

Related Read: 20 BEST Airboat Tours in the Everglades

9. Enchanted Forest Walk

Credit: Lalocadr19 / TripAdvisor

Directions: From north Miami, head south on NE 19th Avenue for 0.5 miles and turn right onto NE 163rd Street. After 0.1 miles, turn left onto NE 18th Avenue and drive for 0.8 miles. Make a slight right onto FL-909 S and drive for 0.3 miles.

Turn left onto NE 16th Avenue and drive for 0.8 miles. Take another left onto NE 135th Street and drive for 0.2 miles. After 0.1 miles, the parking area will be on your left.

The Enchanted Forest Walk in Elaine Gordon Park is a short journey that passes through a series of educational and visually captivating environmental experiences. The paved walkway leads to both a blustering butterfly garden and a blossoming community garden.

After enjoying these lively and beautiful gardens, continue on the quick hike to the MM Equestrian Farm, a unique adventure with a petting zoo, with the opportunity to take part in memorable horseback and pony rides.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.9 Miles

Elevation Gain: 13 Feet

10. Snake Creek Trail

Credit: Brandt Absolu / Flickr

Directions: From Miami, head north on I-95 N for 7.4 miles and take the exit toward Florida Turnpike/FL-826. Merge onto I-95 N and after 0.7 miles, take exit 12B to merge onto FL-826 E toward North Miami Beach.

Merge onto FL-826 E and drive for 2.4 miles and turn left onto NE 16th Avenue, followed by an immediate right onto NE 164th Street. Turn left onto Miami Drive and the parking area will be on your left.

The Snake Creek Trail is a friendly neighborhood hike that connects North Miami Beach and Miami Gardens. The fully paved trail is lined with beautifully planted palm trees leading to views of a gorgeous canal that is a popular place for fishing, kayaking, and jet skiing.

The trail is very wide, allowing for extra park space and free-weight outdoor fitness centers. The pathway ends when it reaches Miami Gardens and Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 10.6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 49 Feet

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

You may also like...


Win a $500 Flight!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
*Terms apply. To participate, enter your email to sign up for the newsletter . You must be 18+ and be a resident of the US. No purchase necessary. Begins January 1st  and ends February 28th, 2024. Winner announced on March 31st. For full rules and regulations, visit our Terms & Conditions page. Data  processed according to our Privacy Policy.
Enter Sweepstakes