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You Can Hike To This Blue Hole (The One In The Florida Keys, Not Belize)

TheTravel logo TheTravel 6/25/2022 Heyleena
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Often dubbed the capital of sport fishing, and scuba diving, the Florida Keys is an epicenter for exploring marine wildlife, think coral reefs teeming with vibrant aquatic animals, but there is a unique place where nature aesthetes can find a freshwater sanctuary filled with animals. Right in the middle of Big Pine Key (which is one of the largest islands in the lower Florida Keys) lies an abandoned rock quarry known as the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a freshwater lake sourced from frequent rains and salt water that filters in through a limestone unlike the Great Blue Hole in Belize, which was formed when rising seawater flooded a series of gigantic caverns at the end of the last Ice Age.

Thanks to the great work of the visionary Henry Flagler who not only built a railroad in the area to facilitate mobility but has also created a supply of fresh water for the endangered animal species such as the Key Deer, which is the only deer species that live on Big Pine Key. The Blue Hole forms an integral part of the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge ensuring the survival of other wildlife such as the large iguanas, birds, fishes, and of course the Florida Alligator. Nature lovers prefer to explore this sanctuary by taking a short hiking trip. The 0.7 miles out-and-back hiking trail is an easy route to complete with children. This can be a wonderful way to get up close and personal with the wildlife.

Related: Visit Belize's Great Blue Hole From The Air

Guided Hiking Trip To The Blue Hole - Florida Keys

Florida Keys Keepsake

Take a leisurely hike to the Blue Hole and listen to the sound of the wildlife here. Hikers will have two trails from the trailhead. The trail on the right side is short and provides a quick view over the Blue Hole. From there return to the trailhead and take the left trail. This trail is decked out with native plant species including pigeon plum, gumbo limbo, and silver buttonwood. Hike further to find an observation platform that overlooks the Blue Hole. From there, one can marvel at the translucent water filled with gorgeous soft shell turtles, and fishes. There are even alligators hiding under the shade of the deck.

Leave the platform area and take the right rugged path to encounter the endangered Key Deer which are indigenous to this place. Hike further to find a Y junction and keep hiking on the right side. The trail ends at a signpost mentioning ‘Area Closed’. From there return on the same hiking route.

  • Location: Big Pine Key
  • Distance: 07 miles (round trip)
  • Facilities: Handicap access, a parking lot, and a visitor’s platform
  • Activities: Birdwatching, Hiking, and taking wildlife photographs
  • Tip: One can expect to find RV parks and state parks along the way.

How Deep Is The Blue Hole in Big Pine Key In Florida?

The Big Pine Key Blue Hole measures about 22 feet in depth. The sinkhole is filled with rainwater which floats on the top of a layer of saltwater seeping in from the sea. This freshwater remains a very crucial part of the area’s fragile ecosystem.

Wildlife in Blue Hole - Big Pine Key

Thanks to the presence of fresh water, there is thriving wildlife living in and around the Blue Hole at the Big Pine Key. Many come here to enjoy the unique view of alligators, turtles, lizards, frogs, and Key Deer living in their natural habitat. Besides these animals, there is also a myriad of bird species including, American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, green herons, egrets, and woodpeckers.

Things To Know Before Visiting Blue Hole

The Blue Hole is a very important source of fresh water to the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge. The survival of the wildlife here is very dependent on the water, which is why visitors need to take extra precautions when accessing the sanctuary. It is important not to litter the area, especially with plastic bags or bottles. It is prohibited to feed the animals and disturb them.

While hiking is allowed there are certain activities that are prohibited. Visitors are not allowed to swim, snorkel, dive, or fish. And it is not recommended to walk beyond the area closed signs.

In addition, it is also imperative to practice ethical wildlife photography and viewing. As a rule of thumb, keeping a distance from the animals is recommended. Do note that playing bird sounds can attract predators, hence it is advisable to play the bird's sound on a very limited basis.

  • What To Bring: Hats, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, binoculars, and cameras

Related: Blue Hole Falls: The Best Waterfall Swimming Hole In GeorgiaHow To Get To Blue Hole In Florida?

To reach Blue Hole drive down the Overseas Highway (US 1) to Big Pine Key. And take 21st Street (Key Deer Blvd). Then head to Watson Road. Visitors will find both a walking and biking path.

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