Miami isn't typically a city that you think of when you're looking for great places to go hiking. After all, the Florida metropolis is much better known for the wildlife on South Beach rather than being home to an array of wild animals. Still, there are some surprisingly great places to hit a trail not far from the city itself, and while those routes won't challenge you with much change in elevation (the state's high point sits at an altitude of just 312 feet), you will still find some impressive places escape the hustle and bustle of the city and connect with nature for awhile.
Everglades National Park
Think you can't find challenging trails near sea level? Think again! Everglades National Park has miles of trail to explore, with easy options for those new to hiking, as well as long distance routes for the more experienced and adventurous. Take for example the 22-mile Long Pine Key trail system, which even offers backcountry camping in a remote and wild setting. There are various routes to explore on the key, so visitors can elect to hike as little or as much as they'd like, with the rugged subtropical wilderness of the Everglades making a dramatic backdrop for their adventure.
The park also has options for cyclists and paddlers too, with a number of canoe and kayaking trails that are well worth exploring as well. In fact, there are few better ways to explore the Everglades than paddling deep into is heart, a place that few visitors ever get a chance to see. The Everglades lies just over one hour from Miami, making this national park a totally doable day trip.
Big Cypress National Preserve
Another amazing destination for adventurous hikers is the Big Cypress National Preserve, which sits close to the Everglades and falls along an important estuary where Florida's freshwater meets the ocean.
Take a stroll along the Loop Road route during the dry season, and you'll find a very pleasant hiking route that wanders along the border of Big Cypress and the Everglades. But go during the wet season, which runs from from May through October, and parts of the trail can be submerged, forcing visitors to wade through water up to chest deep. This may sound like an awful experience, but if you dress properly it can be a great way to get up close and personal with nature, spotting the preserve's amazing wildlife and rich ecosystem in a truly unique way.
Bear Cut Nature Preserve
Located in Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, the Bear Cut Nature Preserve overs 3.5 miles of hiking trails spread out across a diverse and fascinating ecosystem. Several of the trails follow along the scenic waterfront, while others meander in and out of the nearby forest, giving travelers a chance to explore the area and all that it has to offer. Eventually, all of the routes converge at the island's large fossil reef, which features a prominent view of downtown Miami in the distance. Take a different route back to your car to see even more of this intriguing key.
With consistent ocean breezes all year long, the preserve tends to remain at a comfortable temperature, even when heat and humidity begin to rise. That makes it a good choice for a hike, even during the summer months.
Oleta River State Park
For those who don't want to venture too far outside of Miami, there is a great option for taking a hike that can be found right inside the city itself. The Oleta River State Park has some fantastic walking trails that allow travelers to escape the noisy, busy city to go strolling through a mangrove forest instead. Located not far from North Miami Beach, the park allows visitors to walk along the shore while spotting numerous bird species, including storks, herons, and egrets. If you do choose to go for a hike here, be sure to wear your swimsuit. That way, if at any point you start to feel a little overheated, you can take a plunge into the ocean to cool off.
Virginia Key Mountain Bike Park
While the Virginia Key Mountain Bike Park is primarily aimed at two-wheeled adventurers, it is a good spot for hikers and trail runners too. The park offers a variety of routes to explore, with more than 5 miles of trail that wanders through lush mangrove forests. Several of the routes emerge from the brush onto stunningly beautiful beaches as well, offering fantastic views of downtown Miami across the water.
Stay safe while walking these trails by keeping your eyes peeled for mountain bikers at all times. The park was built specifically with trail riding in mind and riders may not expect to encounter foot traffic while zipping along at higher speeds. Most of the routes are wide and relatively open however, making it easy to spot oncoming traffic.