Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail In Florida

Here is everything you need to know about the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Florida
  • Length: 76 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://floridakeys.overseasheritagetrail.com/

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail holds a significant place in the history of transportation and development in the Florida Keys. The trail follows the route of the historic Overseas Railroad, which was constructed by Henry Flagler in the early 20th century. Flagler’s vision was to connect the mainland of Florida to Key West, creating a vital transportation link for both people and goods.

Construction of the Overseas Railroad began in 1905 and was completed in 1912. The railroad featured numerous bridges and trestles, including the iconic Seven Mile Bridge, which spans the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys. The completion of the railroad brought a wave of development and prosperity to the previously isolated islands, as it provided a reliable means of transportation for residents and tourists alike.

However, the Overseas Railroad faced significant challenges throughout its existence. In 1935, a devastating hurricane struck the Florida Keys, causing extensive damage to the railroad infrastructure. Instead of rebuilding the railroad, the decision was made to convert the remaining sections into the Overseas Highway, which is now part of U.S. Route 1. This conversion allowed for the continued connection between the mainland and the Keys, albeit in a different form.

Today, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail serves as a testament to the rich history of transportation in the region. The trail spans over 100 miles, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the scenic beauty of the Florida Keys while retracing the path of the historic railroad. Along the trail, remnants of the original railroad can still be seen, serving as a reminder of the ambitious engineering feat that once connected these islands. The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail stands as a symbol of the region’s past and a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of those who shaped its history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Key Largo: The trail begins at mile marker 106 in Key Largo, near the intersection of US-1 and CR-905.

2. Islamorada: There are multiple access points in Islamorada, including Founders Park at mile marker 87 and Anne’s Beach at mile marker 73.5.

3. Marathon: The trail passes through Marathon, with access points at mile marker 61.5 and mile marker 54.5.

4. Big Pine Key: Access points can be found at mile marker 33.5 and mile marker 29.5 in Big Pine Key.

5. Bahia Honda State Park: This popular state park offers access to the trail at mile marker 37.

6. Key West: The trail ends in Key West, with access points at mile marker 0 and mile marker 4.

Transportation Available

1. Florida Keys Shuttle: Shuttle service providing transportation to various locations along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.
2. Key West Transit: Public bus service offering transportation within Key West and nearby areas.
3. Marathon Taxi: Taxi service available for transportation needs in Marathon and surrounding areas.
4. Islamorada Shuttle: Shuttle service catering to transportation needs in Islamorada and nearby locations.
5. Key Largo Shuttle: Shuttle service providing transportation options in Key Largo and surrounding areas.
6. Bike Rentals: Various bike rental shops offering bicycles for exploring the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.
7. Car Rentals: Several car rental agencies available for those seeking private transportation options.
8. Trolley Tours: Guided trolley tours offering transportation and sightseeing opportunities along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.
9. Water Taxi: Water taxi service providing transportation options for those looking to explore the Florida Keys by boat.
10. Uber/Lyft: Ride-hailing services available for convenient transportation in the Florida Keys area.


The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available at the trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail for visitors to use.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas available for visitors to park their vehicles while using the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers camping sites for those who wish to stay overnight. These sites may have facilities such as tent pads, fire rings, picnic tables, and access to restrooms.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas may have picnic tables, grills, and trash receptacles.

5. Water Stations: There are water stations available along the trail where visitors can refill their water bottles or hydration packs.

6. Bike Racks: The trail provides bike racks at various points for visitors to securely park their bicycles.

7. Information Kiosks: There are information kiosks along the trail that provide maps, trail information, and other useful resources for visitors.

8. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers scenic overlooks where visitors can stop and enjoy the beautiful views of the Florida Keys.

9. Interpretive Signs: There are interpretive signs along the trail that provide information about the history, ecology, and points of interest along the route.

10. Trailhead Facilities: Some trailheads may have additional amenities such as visitor centers, gift shops, bike rentals, and food vendors.

Please note that specific amenities may vary depending on the section of the trail and the location. It is recommended to check with the official website or local authorities for the most up-to-date information on amenities available at the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Key Largo: A popular tourist destination with a variety of lodging options, restaurants, and emergency services.
2. Islamorada: Known for its beautiful beaches, Islamorada offers a range of accommodations, dining choices, and emergency facilities.
3. Marathon: A hub for outdoor activities, Marathon provides lodging, dining, and emergency services for trail users.
4. Big Pine Key: Offering a more secluded experience, Big Pine Key has lodging options, local eateries, and emergency services.
5. Key West: The southernmost point of the trail, Key West boasts numerous lodging choices, diverse dining options, and readily available emergency services.

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail Difficulty Notes

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail presents a moderate difficulty level for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning 106 miles from Key Largo to Key West, this trail offers a diverse range of terrains and landscapes. While the majority of the trail is paved, there are sections that consist of crushed limestone, which can be more challenging for cyclists. Additionally, the trail includes several bridges, some of which are quite steep, requiring a certain level of physical fitness. However, the trail is well-maintained and offers breathtaking views of the ocean, mangroves, and tropical vegetation, making it a rewarding and enjoyable experience for those seeking a moderate level of difficulty.

Features And Attractions

1. Key Largo: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo Hammocks State Botanical Site
2. Islamorada: Theater of the Sea, Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Indian Key Historic State Park
3. Marathon: Seven Mile Bridge, Curry Hammock State Park, Crane Point Museum and Nature Center
4. Big Pine Key: Bahia Honda State Park, National Key Deer Refuge, Blue Hole
5. Lower Keys: Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West Historic Seaport
6. Key West: Mallory Square, Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Southernmost Point Buoy

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
3. Motorized vehicles, including motorcycles, are not allowed on the trail.
4. Bicycles and pedestrians have the right of way.
5. Camping is not permitted along the trail.
6. Open fires and fireworks are strictly prohibited.
7. Hunting or trapping of any kind is not allowed.
8. Fishing is allowed in designated areas only, following state fishing regulations.
9. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please dispose of trash in designated bins.
10. Alcohol consumption is not allowed on the trail.
11. Motorized watercraft are not permitted in the trail’s waterways.
12. The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may have seasonal restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a stunning 106-mile trail that stretches from Key Largo to Key West, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty and rich history of the Florida Keys. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is during the winter months, from December to February. The weather during this time is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (mid-20s to high 20s Celsius). This makes it perfect for outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and birdwatching along the trail. Additionally, the winter months are less crowded, allowing visitors to enjoy the trail and its surroundings in a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.

Another great time to visit is during the spring, from March to May. The weather is warm but not too hot, with temperatures ranging from the high 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (high 20s to low 30s Celsius). This is a popular time for birdwatching enthusiasts, as many migratory birds pass through the Florida Keys during their journey north. The trail is also lined with beautiful wildflowers and blooming trees, adding to the scenic beauty of the area.

It’s important to note that the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work. Hurricane season, which runs from June to November, can bring heavy rains and strong winds, leading to temporary closures for safety reasons. It’s advisable to check the trail’s official website or contact local authorities for the most up-to-date information on closures or restrictions before planning your visit.

Overall, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail offers a unique and unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Whether you visit during the winter months for mild weather and tranquility or in the spring to witness the beauty of migratory birds and blooming flowers, you’re sure to be captivated by the natural wonders and cultural heritage that this trail has to offer.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near trail entrances for easy access.
2. Paved Surfaces: The trail features paved surfaces, ensuring smooth and accessible pathways for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are available along the trail, providing accessible facilities for all visitors.
4. Rest Areas with Benches: Rest areas equipped with benches are strategically placed along the trail, offering opportunities for wheelchair users to take breaks.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating are provided, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor meals.
6. Accessible Fishing Piers: Wheelchair-accessible fishing piers are available along the trail, providing opportunities for wheelchair users to enjoy fishing.
7. Accessible Viewing Areas: Scenic viewpoints along the trail are designed to be accessible, allowing wheelchair users to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
8. Accessible Interpretive Signs: Trail signage is designed to be accessible, providing information and interpretation for all visitors, including those with disabilities.
9. Accessible Trailheads: Trailheads are designed to be accessible, ensuring easy entry and exit points for wheelchair users.
10. Accessible Water Fountains: ADA-compliant water fountains are available along the trail, providing accessible hydration options for all visitors.

Safety Information

When visiting the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay hydrated: The Florida Keys can have high temperatures and humidity, so it is crucial to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you and refill it whenever possible.

2. Protect yourself from the sun: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from the strong sun rays. Consider wearing lightweight, breathable clothing to stay cool.

3. Watch out for wildlife: The Florida Keys are home to various wildlife species, including alligators, snakes, and various marine creatures. Keep a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching any wildlife you encounter.

4. Be cautious of traffic: The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a multi-use trail that may intersect with roads at certain points. Always be aware of your surroundings and follow traffic rules when crossing roads. Look out for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles.

5. Stay on designated paths: Stick to the designated trail and avoid venturing into restricted or private areas. This ensures your safety and helps preserve the natural environment.

6. Carry insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other biting insects can be prevalent in the Florida Keys. Apply insect repellent to protect yourself from bites, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

7. Be prepared for weather changes: The weather in the Florida Keys can be unpredictable, so it is advisable to check the forecast before heading out. Carry rain gear or a light jacket in case of sudden weather changes.

8. Stay aware of water conditions: If you plan to swim or engage in water activities along the trail, be aware of the water conditions. Pay attention to any posted warnings or advisories regarding water quality, tides, or marine life.

9. Inform someone about your plans: Before embarking on the trail, let someone know about your itinerary and estimated return time. This ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts and can alert authorities if needed.

10. Carry essentials: Bring a fully charged cell phone, a map or GPS device, and any necessary medications or first aid supplies. It is also advisable to carry some snacks or energy bars in case you need a quick boost of energy.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when exploring any outdoor trail or natural area. By following these guidelines, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) is a significant recreational and transportation corridor that stretches approximately 106 miles from Key Largo to Key West. In terms of conservation status, the FKOHT is considered a vital component of the Florida Keys ecosystem and is actively managed to ensure the preservation of its natural resources. The trail traverses through a diverse range of habitats, including mangrove forests, coastal dunes, and seagrass beds, which are home to numerous plant and animal species.

Efforts to conserve the FKOHT focus on maintaining the integrity of the surrounding environment and minimizing the impact of human activities on the trail. Conservation measures include regular monitoring of water quality, vegetation health, and wildlife populations along the trail. Additionally, invasive species management programs are implemented to control the spread of non-native plants and animals that could disrupt the native ecosystem.

To protect sensitive habitats, designated areas along the FKOHT are subject to restrictions and regulations. These measures aim to prevent damage to fragile ecosystems, such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, which are essential for the survival of marine life. The conservation status of the FKOHT is regularly assessed and updated to ensure that it remains a sustainable and ecologically valuable resource for both residents and visitors alike.

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