The 11 Best Hikes in Miami1 December, 2021by Bounce
Often, when people think about a holiday in Miami, they think about lounging on the beach or trying some of the amazing food you'll find in the self-styled Capital City of Latin America. What doesn't get talked about as often is the opportunities for hiking you'll find both in and around the city. But with its gorgeous weather and stunning scenery, including multiple national parks in the area, this sea-level city has plenty to offer hiking fans. Whether you're looking for a short walk or for longer hikes for serious backpackers, you'll find that southern Florida is a prime destination for fans of the great outdoors. And with so many fascinating hiking trails to explore, you won't regret bringing your hiking boots along on a trip to Miami.
If you're wondering how to get to some of the best hiking trails in Florida, check out our guide on how to get around Miami. And to make sure you enjoy your hiking vacation to the fullest, don't forget to drop off your unneeded bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Miami. The less you have to carry on your back, the more fun you'll have exploring the urban landscape and nature trails this part of Florida has to offer.
Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Miami
You might not think of a built-up city like Miami as a great hiking destination. But if you just want to stretch your legs and get a little taste of what the city has to offer, there are plenty of ways to do that. Miami may not be the most walkable city on earth, and its public transport infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Still, with a little planning, you can experience some of the best of what the city has.
For instance, you could begin your exploration at the Freedom Tower. Once known as the Ellis Island of the South, this striking tower processed the immigration of millions of Cubans fleeing from the Castro regime to Florida. Now, the tower is both a memorial to Cuban immigration and a space for contemporary art, and a building well worth exploring. From the tower, it's a short walk to the equally interesting Perez Art Museum, and from there, it's not far to the Port of Miami where you can watch giant cruise ships dock at the busy terminals. From there, continue walking down to Bayside Market, one of Miami's most popular attractions and a great place to grab a bite to eat or drink while you watch the world go by. And if you're looking for something more substantial, check out this guide to the best brunch in Miami.
Of course, Miami is known for its beaches, and if you're in the mood for sandy dunes and crashing waves, a walk along Bayfront Park, Miami Beach, or South Beach could be just what you're after. Best of all, these activities don't have to cost you a penny. If you're looking for more ways to save money on your Florida trip, check out our guide to the top free things to do in Miami.
Oleta River State Park
Miami's urban landscape is definitely worth exploring. But if you'd rather have outdoor adventures among lush mangrove forests, you'll be pleased to hear you can have that without going far from the city. Oleta River State Park is located in North Miami, only 30 minutes from downtown, but it feels a very long way away. Covering more than a thousand acres, Oleta River State Park is Florida's largest urban park, and the scenic waterways and tropical trees are enough to make you forget the city even exists. Along with miles of nature trails, you'll find several beaches overlooking the magnificent Biscayne Bay. This is also a great destination for anglers and paddlers, since the park forms part of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.
Also close to the city, but this time to the south of downtown, you'll find the pleasant surroundings of Key Biscayne. This offshore key is preserved as Cape Florida State Park, and it provides a fantastic way to experience the ocean scenery of South Florida. Check out Bill Baggs Lighthouse Trail, a three-mile loop that is perfect for an easy hike and will bring you to a historic lighthouse that has stood guarding the shore for more than 200 years. This State Park is also a great place to explore the mangrove wetlands and sawgrass marsh characteristic of this part of the world. Those in search of a greater challenge should test themselves on the Rickenbacker Causeway, a 10-mile out-and-back trail that lets you get some serious exercise. Note the trail is popular with mountain bikers, so stay alert while walking here.
Bear Cut Preserve is another of the great nature trails in this area. Though it's only two miles long, it lets you explore the shoreline and the hardwood hammocks that make this area so unique. And while you're there, don't forget to visit the Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, a popular interpretive center that will help you learn more about the plants and animals of the region and can guide you on the best hikes to take.
Biscayne National Park
If you can't get enough of Biscayne Bay and the glittering Atlantic Ocean, no one would blame you. And you can see more of this stunning environment by heading south of the city to Biscayne National Park. This oceanfront park is only 30 miles from downtown Miami, but its status as a national park means you'll be seeing some of the best natural areas South Florida has to offer.
This oceanfront park protects an enormous area of Florida coastline, and is a fantastic place for water sports such as snorkeling, diving, fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. The park protects a significant coral reef that makes it a haven for divers. However, you don't need to get into the water to enjoy what this park has to offer. The park has several hiking trails, including a short and easy walk along Black Creek Canal which lets you see mangrove forests and flocks of migrating birds, or the slightly more challenging Spite Highway Trail to Hidden Beach, which runs for five and a half miles through the sand dunes and gives you a great chance of seeing Florida's wildlife, including some endangered species.
Matheson Hammock Park
Just a little south of the city, you'll find the popular Matheson Hammock Park. This park is nowhere near the biggest in the area, so it isn't the dream destination if you're looking for long-distance hiking. However, what sets Matheson Hammock Park apart from other parks near Miami is its man-made atoll pool, which is naturally flushed by tidal water from Biscayne Bay and makes a great warm and sheltered place for swimming and other water-based outdoor activities.
Matheson Hammock Park also has its share of hiking trails that let you explore the hammocks, or stands of tropical trees, that are one of the defining ecological features of the area. Enjoying the Florida sun from the shade of an ancient hammock is one of the most Sunshine State things you could possibly do, and it's convenient to be able to experience this side of Florida so near Miami.
Big Cypress National Preserve
If you have a hankering to explore the wild side of Florida and are willing to travel a little further from the city, Big Cypress National Preserve is an unbeatable destination for day hikes and outdoor activities. Located 45 miles inland from downtown Miami, you won't find ocean vistas and sandy beaches here. Instead, you'll get interpretive trails, incredible wildlife, and some of the best hiking opportunities in the state.
Big Cypress is home to a portion of the Florida Trail, a massive 1000 mile trail that stretches all the way from the sprawling park to Pensacola Beach north of Miami. This trail offers some of the most rugged terrain in the state, and is the ideal place to get away from civilization and encounter the true Florida wilderness. Of course, you don't need to hike the entire thousand-mile stretch to get a sense of what it offers. The Tamiami Trail rest stop offers a good place to start and provides a moderate challenge that will give you a sense of what the Florida backcountry is all about.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park has to be the most famous park in Florida, and for good reason. This 1.5 million acre park preserves the unique Florida wetlands from development and offers the ultimate place to encounter the scenery and wildlife of the state. Taking a fan boat tour through the Everglades is probably the best way to see alligators and other aquatic wildlife that have made the area famous. But Everglades National Park also offers plenty of hiking trails to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery at your own pace.
Shark Valley Trail offers a 16-mile loop through the national park that is accessible year-round, but will make you feel like you've traveled a long way away from the city. While it's one of the best spots for long-distance hiking near Miami, it offers an encounter with unspoiled wilderness you wouldn't expect to find so close to such a big town. This completely paved trail is suitable for all skill levels but is understandably popular with mountain bikers, so expect to share the trail.
For a much shorter hike, check out the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park. At under mile long, Anhinga Trail makes a great short walk for families or anyone who wants an easy way to enjoy the Florida sunshine. The trail winds through a sawgrass marsh that gives you a taste of the Everglades and the best chance to spot Florida wildlife on a short walk.
Easy hikes in Miami
If you just want to stretch your legs without tiring yourself out too much, Miami and the parks surrounding it have plenty of good options. A walk through downtown Miami to see the port and Miamai Beach is suitable for all skill levels, but will give you great sense of what the city has to offer. Alternatively, if you want to see one of the most famous national parks in the United States without taxing yourself too much, try the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park.
Intermediate hikes in Miami
Florida's flat scenery means you can hike greater distances without getting tired, but remember to bring plenty of water and a hat that protects you from the fierce sun. Key Biscayne, including Cape Florida State Park, and Biscayne National Park offer plenty of moderate difficulty hikes that are good for testing your abilities. Spite Highway Trail in Biscayne National Park offers a decent challenge that won't tire you out too much and will let you experience some of the best Florida scenery near Miami.
Difficult hikes in Miami
Florida isn't exactly mountainous, so if you want a challenging hike, you'll need to go for distance rather than elevation. That's where the Florida Trail comes in. With a thousand miles to hike through mangrove forest and tropical lagoons all the way to the Atlantic Ocean at Pensacola Beach, this trail offers enough of a challenge for even the most avid hiker. If you're planning an overnight trip, remember to bring plenty of water and be prepared for the challenges of such a long distance. But the reward will be an encounter with the Florida wilderness you'll never forget.