|More hiking at Fisheating Creek
Do you need to stretch your legs after a long day paddling at Fisheating Creek? A nice hike at Fort Center just might be the ticket.
This is a five mile hike from the ranger station to the hardwood hammock (tree area), around the interpretive hammock loop and back. Be sure to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent and rain poncho. Binoculars will help you view wildlife and a camera to record your trip is nice to have. One member of your group should carry a first aid kit and matches, just in case. Your cell phone may or may not work, depending on your carrier and cell phone model.
The first mile and half of the hike is a long, straight trail that heads west from the entrance. On hot summer days it will be a challenge making it down this section of the trail. Fortunately the trail has a number of covered information stations with benches so you can escape the sun and rest.
The trail cuts through a wet prairie and floodplain that is open to cattle grazing. Beside cows, you'll likely see a variety of birds along this part of the trail. One featured species is the boldly patterned Caracara, a bird of prey that is a member of the falcon family. Look for this bird on the ground as it is frequently found digging for insects and hunting other small animals.
At 1.5 miles from the entrance station you'll enter the hardwood hammock and interpretive trail loop. Here you will find nice shady oak trees to keep you cool and all manner of bromeliads (members of the pineapple family), cabbage palm and other tropical plants. Wild orange and lemon trees can be found at several spots along the trail. For fauna, you might see wild boar, whitetail deer, turkey and squirrels.
Be sure to check the trail markers as you hike. Some of these will lead you to interesting side diversions and you'll get a chance to see parts of the old Fort Center complex. Here Native Americans built a variety of mounds, ditches, embankments and ponds along Fisheating Creek as part of a village occupied between 1000 and 500 BCE. European settlers and soldiers occupied the area during the Second and Third Seminole War in the early 1800s.
Following the loop will take you along the edge of Fisheating Creek. You'll see several places where limestone rock is exposed. You're also likely to spot a number of alligators sunning themselves on the bank and flocks of wading birds. The hiking loop continues in a circle, eventually returning to the main trail. From here retrace your route east along the long, straight trail to the entrance station.
From Fisheating Creek Outpost, go south on US 27 over the Fisheating Creek bridge. Continue southeast toward Moore Haven for about 12 miles. You'll pass Gatorama - be sure to stop in and visit the gators and crocs. Continue southeast to SR 78. Turn left (North) on SR 78 and go until you see Banana Grove Road. Look for the Fisheating Creek WMA Fort Center sign on the left side. Follow the unpaved road for one mile west to entrance station. Entrance and parking is free.
We have plenty of space at Fisheating Creek Outpost. Check out our campground page for more info.