What is the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail?
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) is a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, supported in part by the Florida Department of Transportation and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. This 2,000-mile, self-guided highway trail connects and unifies 515 birding and wildlife viewing sites throughout Florida. Modeled after the successful Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, this ambitious project features detailed guide booklets, a mobile device application, and special highway signs identifying GFBWT sites. Guide booklets contain site descriptions, directions, and maps showcasing the wonderful birding and wildlife watching opportunities in Florida. Each Trail section consists of a series of clusters, with each cluster containing 1 to 15 sites highlighting communities and special ecosystems like the Lake Wales Ridge.
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is divided into four sections. For a list of individual Trail sites, with counties, nearest cities, web links and contact phone numbers, use the links below to navigate to each section:
- The East Florida Section opened in November 2000.
- The West Florida Section opened in November 2002.
- The Panhandle Florida Section opened in May 2004.
- The South Florida Section opened in January 2006.
To better introduce visitors to the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, we have designated nine “gateway” sites at exceptional birding and wildlife viewing locations. There are two or three gateways located in each trail section. Gateways have staffed visitor centers and serve as hubs for Trail information. Each gateway has a special kiosk with birdwatching tips and introductory information regarding the Trail. Loaner optics can be checked out for free for a day with a driver’s license or major credit card at all gateway locations. Or stop by and pick up a copy of the guide booklets and other Trail publications.
Traditionally, only local birders knew about the great birding and wildlife watching sites in their area. Most publicity went to federal and state sites, such as J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park. The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail groups prominent viewing sites with smaller local sites to spread out wildlife watchers and their eco-tourism dollars into the surrounding communities.
The Trail is possible thanks to dozens of federal, state, and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private landowners. Continued, broad-based support and grassroots community investment will make the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail a success for Florida and for our feathered friends. If you wish to receive updates on the progress of the Trail and participate in the site nomination process, please contact us with your name, address, phone number and e-mail address.