The Anhinga Trail Archeological Site

Side view of Anhinga Trail

NPS Photo

Under view of Anhinga Trail
Anhinga Trail boardwark in the Royal Palm area of Everglades National Park

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What is the Anhinga Trail Archeological Site?

The Anhinga Trail archeological site is an ancient Native American fishing and hunting site in Everglades National Park. This underwater site was named after the nearby Anhinga Trail. It was discovered in 1968 during a dredging project that was designed to increase aquatic wildlife habitat. Hundreds of bone tools and other artifacts were found at the site.

The bone tools were preserved at the bottom of Taylor Slough in sediments that contained peat deposits. The peat lowered the oxygen levels in the soil and prevented bacteria from decaying the bone artifacts. This preserved the artifacts in excellent condition. Although wood typically decays very quickly at archeological sites, wooden shafts were found inside some of the bone tools.

In 2014 archeologists surveyed a large area around the site. The survey found that the site was inadvertently destroyed during the dredging project. It is very unfortunate that the site was destroyed long ago, but the artifacts recovered during the dredging project help tell the story about the people who made these incredible tools. Because the site has provided important archeological information, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Anhinga Trail artifact collection contains a large variety of tools made from animal bones and teeth. The artifacts were preserved in excellent condition and are quite beautiful.

Ranger Programs led at Anhinga Trail
Park ranger and visitors on the Anhinga Trail boardwalk

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How was the site used?

Many of the artifacts found at the site were made from animal bone. Sharpened bone points were used for hunting aquatic animals in the slough. Fishing gear, including two- or three-part fish hooks and fish gorges, was also found. Although very common at most archeological sites, only a few pieces of pottery were found. Based on the artifacts, archeologists have determined that the Anhinga Trail site was not a place where people lived but was a hunting and fishing spot that was used by generations of Native Americans.

Some evidence suggests that there was a structure in the water at the site. Perhaps it was a fish weir designed for trapping fish, or a platform or dock to get closer to aquatic prey.

How old is the site?

Radiocarbon dates were obtained for several tools and also for some soot on ceramic fragments. The dates indicate that the site was used for thousands of years. The oldest artifact at the site, a cut piece of wood, is almost 5,000 years old! The youngest artifact at the site, a tool for cleaning animal hides, is about 700 years old. The Anhinga Trail timeline shows how long the site was used, the objects used to determine the date ranges, and major events concerning the site.

Plan Your Visit to the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park

Map of Everglades National Park
Map showing the Royal Palm Visitor Center location

NPS map

The Anhinga Trail archeological site is located near the Anhinga Trail boardwalk in Everglades National Park. Although the site was located underwater, you can see the natural setting of the area and see an exhibit about the archeological site in the visitor center.

You can access the Anhinga Trail from the Royal Palm Visitor Center (at the Homestead entrance to the park). The Anhinga Trail is 0.8 miles round-trip and offers a boardwalk above Taylor Slough. Because this portion of Taylor Slough contains water year-round, the Anhinga Trail is one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the park. This self-guided trail winds through a marsh where you may see alligators, anhingas, herons, egrets, and many other birds. Learn more about the trail on the Everglades National Park website and on the webpage for Anhinga Trail.

Last updated: September 27, 2018