Fort Jefferson Tour and Moat Wall Trail
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Historic Fort Jefferson, located nearly 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, is the centerpiece of the pristine and remote Dry Tortugas National Park—accessible only by boat or seaplane, this 100-square mile park is home to the Moat Wall Trail, the Fort Jefferson Tour, and picturesque turquoise waters with decent snorkeling.
Upon arrival at the boat dock or via seaplane, cross the moat on the wooden foot bridge and make your way to the fort entrance—there is only one way in and out of the fort, so you will exit the same way you enter. Once inside you can begin your hike by following the self-guided tour of the fort—beginning on the ground-level, you will explore the brick walls, arches, and rooms of the hexagon-shaped 19th century structure. Spiral staircases, which connect the multi-leveled fort, can be found at each corner of the hexagon—wander at will through the ground-level and second floor of the fort before making your way to the top level.
The top level, or roof of Fort Jefferson, is open to the elements and provides a panoramic view of the majestic waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Bush Key (a bird sanctuary), and the noticeable features of the fort itself including the towering lighthouse and spectacular moat and Moat Wall Trail.
After exploring the top level, make your way back down to ground level where you can explore the open grounds in the center of the fort before exiting—in addition to hiking around the interior of the fort walls, you can also explore the exterior along the Moat Wall Trail.
The Moat Wall Trail circumnavigates the exterior of Fort Jefferson—the brick moat wall is a highlight of the trip, allowing hikers to walk around the fort surrounded by spectacular views of the Gulf.