Friends of Fakahatchee: Dedicated to financial and volunteer support to preserve the unique ecology and cultural heritage of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and educate the public about its importance.
About the The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk
The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk area on the north side of Route 41 West of Route 29 still looks much as it did when in 1957 Lester Norris purchased 640 acres to save it from logging, the area at the time was called Big Cypress hence the reason why the boardwalk is called the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk although it is in the Fakahatchee. Lester Norris also built the boardwalk and he later deeded the property to the state along with a $67,000.00 donation.
The 2,300 foot wooden boardwalk takes visitors into the heart of Fakahatchee Preserve, the largest bald cypress/royal palm swamp in the world. Forty interpretive signs provide information along the way. A lovely pond at the end of the Boardwalk is great place to rest and observe alligators and a variety of birds who make the pond their home.
As you walk along the boardwalk, you are entering the central slough, the deepest part of the Fakahatchee Preserve. The bald cypress trees surrounding the boardwalk are hundreds of years old. The smaller pop ash and pond apple trees host epiphytic orchids, ferns and bromeliads in their multiple trunks. Pickerel weed and alligator flag plants thrive in the slowly moving water below the boardwalk.
Members of the Friends volunteer for interpretive duty along the boardwalk and you’ll enjoy their tales of the denizens of the swamp.
The current boardwalk is maintained entirely through volunteer labor and supplies are funded by visitor donations. Volunteers work, to keep up with the ravages of weather and wear in the planks and pilings, often goes unnoticed but is critical to exposing visitors to the Fakahatchee Preserve.
Boardwalk Expansion Project
After a decade of planning the Boardwalk Expansion Project construction began in May 2021 to create a safe parking area, build restrooms, an Interpretive Pavilion and a Boardwalk leading to Green Heron Lake via the old Boardwalk. Read more on our Projects page.
Part of a decade of architectural planning included developing a story line to engage visitors. It was in January 2015 that the Park and FOF took the first steps in a six-month process to develop an Interpretive Prospectus by hosting an Interpretive Planning Workshop at Rookery Bay. The event was facilitated by Jennifer Rigby and Kris Whipple from the Acorn Group, a specialist interpretive planning firm whom FOF had retained for the duration of this project. Read more about this exciting step forward here.