Top Rides in Southeast Florida

Markham Park

The vast expanse of the Everglades and the pressures of development may limit the space available to Southeast Florida's bikers, but the area presents interesting alternatives. Here, GORP presents three off-roading adventures for bikers in Southeast Florida — GORP

This Broward County park has an off-road double- and single-track trail system that makes three loops over a total distance of approximately seven miles. Two novice loops stay mainly on the flat, double-track service roads along the shores of the park's lakes. The intermediate route climbs the hills and knolls found on the single-track.

Did I say hills? Yes. This 665-acre park sits on the eastern edge of the Everglades, but it wasn't always that way. A long time ago, before there was a Miami, a swamp, a conquistador, or even a priest, ancient coral reefs grew large enough to raise some trees. Brightly colored and exotic fish swam on both sides of the coral head wall, until rising into the picket of mangrove roots. Now, after the waters have fallen and shifted, other brightly colored creatures, Cyclus montanea, climb these walls.

Since its opening in 1973, Markham Park has been the center of many activities for the heavily populated southern Florida coast. Camping and picnicking, of course, are primary attractions. However, that's just the surface. There's also a sports field and courts for the ball-minded; water for the boaters, fishers, and swimmers; a target range for shooters; trails for bikers, hikers, and horseback riders; a landing strip for model airplane pilots; even an observatory and telescope for contemplators of the universe.

Notes on the trail: Whether you're taking the novice route or the intermediate, plenty of signs mark intersections. Basically, the beginning loops follow the dirt roads along the lakes, and the single-track serves the more advanced sections. In any case, you should sample each of the loops. The intermediate is not too difficult; even the rank beginner can pedal much of it. Sections that can't be safely ridden—both downhill and up—can be pushed until the necessary skills and strength are developed. Likewise, with the novice loops, advanced bikers should use them for sprint training or cooling down from the workout on the interior single-track.

Finding the trail: Enter Markham Park by exiting Interstate 595 onto FL 84 and traveling less than a mile to where the signs announce the turn. Go straight for approximately a mile, following signs indicating bike rentals. You can park in the lot closest to the concession stands.

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