Gumbo Limbo Trail, Royal Palm Visitor Center, Everglades National Park, Florida
Gumbo Limbo Trail - 0.4 miles
Royal Palm Visitor Center
|Round-Trip Length:||0.4 miles (Wheelchair Accessible)|
|Elevation Change:||Nominal Elevation Change|
Gumbo Limbo Trail - 0.4 Miles Round-Trip
In the Everglades, life is a game of inches. The Gumbo Limbo Trail is a prime example of how 2-3 inches of elevation can create new worlds. Surrounded by an enormous saw grass marsh prairie, the Gumbo Limbo Trail leads visitors though a hardwood hammock ecosystem. While the saw grass prairie is perennially underwater, the hardwood hammock ecosystem is a tree island of dry land in a sea of saw grass.
The wheelchair accessible Gumbo Limbo Trail leaves from behind the Royal Palm concession area, adjacent to the equally worthwhile Anhinga Trail. The paved walkway is immediately immersed in a canopy of tropical and sub-tropical flora. Tall palm trees, huge ferns and twisted Strangler Fig trees can be found vying for sunlight within the dense jungle canopy. Then there is the trail's namesake; the tropical Gumbo Limbo Tree.
The Gumbo Limbo Tree has several monikers. It has been referred to as the Tourist Tree due to its distinctive red, flaky bark which can resemble a tourist's sunburn and central Americans call it the Naked Indian tree. The Gumbo Limbo has been used for centuries by Native and Spanish settlers. Resin from the tree can be used to make glue or water repellant coatings and the wood itself has been used in Native American shelter construction. In more modern times, the wood was used to carve merry-go-round horses, and even used as natural fence posts in home construction.
As the trail loops through the hardwood hammock, there are excellent examples of solution holes. These life saving oases are formed when acids from decaying plant life eat away at the limestone underground to create deep water pockets. During the dry season, these solution holes are deep enough to retain water for months, sustaining life in an otherwise inhospitable environment. The level of water in a solution hole represents the water table level for that entire area. During times of extreme drought, alligators will take over solution holes, leaving little room for other animals.
The Gumbo Limbo Trails is an excellent family hike and is suitable for people of all abilities.
- N25 22.980 W80 36.590 — 0.0 Miles: Royal Palms Visitor Center
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There is no backcountry camping on the Gumbo Limbo Trail.
- Fishing is not permitted on the Gumbo Limbo Trail.
Rules and Regulations
- Biking is not permitted on this trail, nor are motor vehicles of any kind
- Disturbing wildlife is illegal and violators are harshly punished
Directions to Trailhead
The Royal Palm Visitor Center is four miles (6 km) from the main park entrance or Ernest Coe Visitor Center. Turn left at the sign for the Royal Palm Visitor Center and take the road until it dead ends at the parking lot. The trail begins just behind the center itself.
Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034-6733