Big Bend - Things to Do
Sample a wide range of activities, from duck hunting to paddling, within the varied habitats of Big Bend’s five management units.
For many years, local people have hunted on the lands now constituting the Big Bend WMA. Hunting and fishing continue to be the most popular recreational activities on the area. Biologists manage habitats to provide high-quality forage for dove, quail, deer and wild turkey as well as for nongame wildlife. Each unit of Big Bend WMA offers unique hunting opportunities, from duck hunting to deer, hog and turkey hunts. Consult the hunt regulations and calendars for each unit of Big Bend (North Central Region) or go to Hickory Mound, Jena, Snipe Island, Spring Creek and Tide Swamp.
Creeks, streams and small ponds throughout Big Bend WMA support many species of game fish including largemouth bass, catfish and several species of sunfish. Enjoy crabbing and fishing platforms at several units. All Big Bend units except Snipe Island have boat ramps providing access to the Gulf for saltwater anglers. Spotted sea trout are abundant in March and April and October and November. Reference the Florida Public Boat Ramp Finder to locate boat ramps in the area. Carry appropriate licenses and permits. Note that some ramps are only accessible at high tide and are not suitable for larger boats.
Big Bend WMA features abundant wildlife and unique viewing opportunities and several spots within the Hickory Mound and Tide Swamp units are highlighted on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. These include viewing towers at coastal vantage points, old logging trams through hardwood swamps and scenic vistas of uplands and wetlands along area roads. Up to 100 species of butterflies may be found here, sipping nectar from abundant roadside wildflowers. Visit the Wildlife page for more information about the area's wildlife. Download or print the Big Bend Bird List.
Hiking, Biking, and Horseback Riding
Within Big Bend, hikers, bicyclists and equestrians may explore over 300 miles of roads. Old logging trams are ideal places for hikers, birders and photographers. Marked hiking trails at Tide Swamp include Hagen's Cove and Dallus Creek. Additionally, there are several marked trails across Snipe Island. Wear orange vests or hats during hunting seasons. Horseback riding is allowed year-round on named and numbered roads on all units.
Camping is prohibited with the exception of seven designated island sites on the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail that are reserved for permitted sea kayakers only. Camping permits and online reservations are required.
Sea kayakers enjoy vistas of seemingly endless salt marsh and cabbage palm hammocks along the state-designated Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail. The trail makes it easy to design individualized trips, which may include multi-day excursions with overnight camping at seven designated sites (see Camping). Or, enjoy short explorations by launching boats and paddle craft from numerous boat ramps. Note that some ramps are only accessible at high tide; check tide tables.
Experience Big Bend’s habitat variety with a drive along unpaved roads. Pick up a copy of “An Afternoon at Tide Swamp” to guide you along a designated driving tour on the Tide Swamp unit. Check the vehicle use regulations in the Regulations Summary online for each unit you wish to visit. During hunting seasons, avoid early morning and evening touring.