Janes Memorial Scenic Drive serves as the primary entry point for accessing the hiking and biking trails within Fakahatchee Strand Park. This 6-mile dirt road can be conveniently reached from State Road 29. The Drive boasts a solid compact dirt surface, making it a favored route for cycling. The journey extends approximately 11 miles from the ranger station to its conclusion at Picayune State Forest.
Your expedition begins amidst marl and wet prairie landscapes, accentuated by the largest stand of trees in the park. As you progress, the scenery gradually transitions into a swamp, with imposing cypress forests flanking both sides of the road.
Beneath the road, a system of culverts ensures the uninterrupted flow of water, preserving the park’s natural balance. Side tracks, formerly used by loggers to reach the majestic trees are referred to as “trams.” Some of these tracks have been repurposed into hiking trails.
This drive dates back to its origins as a logging trail, constructed to facilitate access to the impressive Bald Cypress trees in the area.
Picnic tables can be found at the entrance of the park off Janes Scenic Drive, the East River entrance. Expect limited cell service for the majority of the journey on this rugged backcountry dirt road. Take into account the type of vehicle you’re using, and be sure to pack snacks and an ample supply of water. Don’t rush through the trip; instead, savor the experience and take your time.
The West Main trail can be found 4.5 miles past the ranger station. If you’re looking for an initial glimpse of what the Fakahatchee interior is like, Gate 7 is a suitable starting point for a short walk. Please be sure to park a reasonable distance away from the gate and stick to the main trail.
East Main trail is 6.5 miles past the ranger station, here you’ll find a large area to park where Janes Scenic drive is gated. Following this trail, you’ll traverse one of the Preserve’s largest stands of native Royal Palms. After traveling two miles, you’ll encounter the Fakahatchee Hilton, a private cabin, circa 1957. The pond situated behind the cabin provides an excellent opportunity for observing alligators. Please be respectful of the cabin owner’s private property.
It usually takes around 45 minutes to cruise from the Port of the Islands to the ocean. The journey includes navigating through a long, no-wake zone, canal, providing a delightful and unhurried ride. Bring a cover for sun protection during this slow and scenic route. About half an hour in, you’ll arrive at the expansive and naturally beautiful mangroves before reaching the open waters of the ocean.