The boardwalk is part of the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve which is 20 miles long and 3 to 5 miles wide reaching from Alligator Alley south past the Tamiami Trail and into the Ten Thousand Islands. Information from the website, fakahatcheefriends.com, notes that the strand is the “main drainage slough of the southwestern Big Cypress Swamp and contains the largest stand of royal palms and the largest concentration and variety of orchids in North America.” The web site tells of the history of logging precious hardwoods during WWII and during the post WWII housing boom of the 1950s. The Fakahatchee Strand became a State Park in 1974. This protected area is home to rare and endangered animals such as the Evergladesmink, Florida panther, the black bear, wood stork and the mangrove fox squirrel.
The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is 1.2 miles round trip and informational plaques are posted throughout the walk noting the bald cypress, the royal and sabal palms, and the variety of bromeliads and ferns. The area is a birdwatcher’s haven with sightings of woodpeckers, owls, hawks, warblers, and pileated woodpeckers. An active eagle’s nest is visible and turtles, an occasional snake, and lizards are often sighted. At the end of the boardwalk is an ‘alligator’ hole and depending upon the time of year and the warmth of the sun, alligators and their babies can be seen lazily basking on the bank of the pond.
A Seminole Indian store is adjacent to the boardwalk housing Seminole crafts and wares.
The Friends of Fakahatchee is a not-for-profit organization whose volunteers lead tours at the boardwalk, raise funds for education and exhibitions and also take part in the Big Cypress Bend maintenance. For information regarding their organization and their many activities go to their website, www.friendsoffakahatchee.org.