Meandering Around Miami

Inland
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Photo Courtesty US Fish and Wildlife Service

South Fork St. Lucie Hiking Trail

Martin County
2.3 miles

Although this is a short hiking trail, it has been included because it is a first-of-its-kind trail for Florida and because acquisitions are well underway to expand it. The South Fork Trail is unique because it is a true multi-use trail, being both a canoeing and hiking trail. At this time, the hiking trailhead can only be accessed by the St. Lucie River canoe trail! Beginning at a county park on the South Fork of the St. Lucie River at Stuart, the canoe trail goes south for about 3 miles to the trailhead which is located on the west bank in a beautiful grove of oak trees. The hiking trail follows the river north through pine flatwoods, hardwood hammocks, and scrub with frequent opportunities for scenic views of the river. Along the waterfront, watch for alligators, turtles and manatees. On the trail you may see deer, turkey and feral hogs. Camping is allowed in the oak grove at the trailhead, but you must obtain a permit to do so. There is no potable water available.

Begin: From Stuart, travel south on SR 76 for about 5 miles to Cove Road. Turn left (south) on this road and continue for a very short distance to Gaines Road. Turn right on Gaines and continue to the county park on the St. Lucie River. After launching your canoe, paddle left (south) and follow the stream for about 3 miles. The hiking trailhead is on river right and is clearly marked with large signs.

End: Same place.

Camping: Primitive. At the trailhead with the appropriate permit.

Difficulty: Easy.

For Further Information: Department of Land Management, South Florida Water Mgt. District, P.O. Box 24680, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4680, (800) 432-2045, (in-state) (561) 686-8800

Lower Kissimmee River National Scenic Trail

Okeechobee County
9 miles

An extension of the Kissimmee River National Scenic Trail, this section does not yet link with the Upper Kissimmee Trail in Highlands County. It begins near the confluence of the Kissimmee River with Lake Okeechobee and extends northward for 9 miles along the east side of the Kissimmee River Canal (C-38) to SR 70. The Kissimmee River is presently involved in an imposing restoration project that hopes to return the river to its natural, free-flowing state.

Begin: From Okeechobee, travel south on SR 15 for about 1 mile to the junction with SR 78. Turn right (west) and continue for 4.5 miles to the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area on the left (south) side of the road. The trailhead is on the right (north) side of SR 78 and is marked with a Florida Trail Association sign.

End: From Okeechobee, travel west on SR 70 for about 10 miles to the bridge across the Kissimmee River. The trailhead is on the left (south) side of the road and it is marked with an FTA sign.

Camping: Primitive. In an oak hammock near the SR 70 bridge. Full facilities at Okee-Tantie Recreation Area.

Difficulty: Easy

For Further Information: Department of Land Management, South Florida Water Mgt. District, P.O. Box 24680, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4680, (800) 432-2045, (in-state) (561) 686-8800

Dupuis Hiking Trail

Dupuis Reserve State Forest
Martin and Palm Beach Counties

Loop 1: 4.3 miles
Loop 2: 6.8 miles
Loop 3: 11.5 miles
Loop 4: 15.5 miles

The Dupuis Reserve is a former ranch that covers almost 22,000 acres of flatwoods, wet prairie, scrub cypress and marsh. It is now owned and managed cooperatively by several state agencies. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, horseback riding, bicycling and hiking are permitted, but such usage must be compatible with environmental needs. The reserve is open to the public during daylight hours year around but is closed to equestrians, bicyclers and hikers during hunting season. Primitive camping is allowed at designated camp sites with the appropriate permit but there is no potable water available. There are four loop trails in the reserve, each interconnecting to the next. Loop 4 also accesses the 6.8 mile Corbett Connector Trail that leads to a 14-mile trail in the Corbett Wildlife Management Area.

Begin: From Indiantown, travel SR 76 west for 6 miles to Gate 2 of the Dupuis Reserve State Forest. A Florida Trail Association marker will designate the start of the trail.

End: Same place.

Camping: Primitive. At designated campsites only. Permit required.

Difficulty: Moderate. The trail may be wet in places and it is sometimes necessary to cross fences and ditches.

For further Information: Department of Land Management, South Florida Water Mgt. District, P.O. Box 24680, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4680, (800) 432-2045, (in-state) (561) 686-8800

Corbett Trail

J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area
Palm Beach County

14 miles (28 round trip)

The J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA) adjoins the Dupuis State Forest and the hiking trail continues from one area into the other. Although Corbett WMA is open to the public, hikers must have a Wildlife Management Area permit for access. The trail is one-way, running east-west, and links with the 6.8 mile Corbett Connector Trail to Dupuis State Forest near its western terminus. There is no vehicle access to this point, therefore hikers who do not continue into Dupuis must retrace their steps. The trail primarily crosses an area of flatlands and wet prairie, vegetated with pines, palmettos and low growing shrubs. These open tracts are noted for their spectacular display of wildflowers in the spring and summer. An Indian mound creates a nice diversion near the western terminus of the trail. The trail may be wet in places so appropriate footgear should be worn.

Begin: From North Palm Beach, travel west on SR 710 for about 11 miles to Stumper's Grade Road. Turn left (south) and continue on that road for 3.8 miles to the entrance to Corbett WMA. The trail begins at Everglades Youth Camp.

End: Same place.

End: Same place.

Camping: Primitive. At designated sites. No potable water.

Difficulty: Moderate. The trail may be wet in places.

For Further Information: Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600, (407) 640-6100

Marsh Nature Trail

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Palm Beach County (near Delray Beach)

3.2 miles

The Marsh Nature Trail at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge provides a valuable introduction to the Everglades. The Visitor's Guide, an information booklet provided at the visitor's center, gives an excellent review of the characteristics of the cypress swamp and impounded marsh. The designated trail makes a circle around one of ten impoundments behind the visitor's center—a walk of less than 1 mile. Hikers can also walk around all ten impoundments if they wish, or encircle four of the interior impoundments, resulting in a trek of just over 3 miles.

Another option is to follow the dike along the 11-mile long rim canal for as far as is desirable. On the east side there are many little ponds and sloughs, while the west side offers a scenic view across the glades. These areas are planted periodically with waterfowl food plants, and draining, burning, plowing, and reflooding also are part of the management plan. It is no wonder that many bird watchers rank this as one of the top five birding spots in Florida! The area is also rich in plant and animal life. Use The Visitor's Guide to identify birds, animals, and plants that you encounter. This is a day-use-only area that is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Begin: At the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center, located 10 miles west of the Florida Turnpike. It lies 1 mile west of US 441 between the points where SR 804 and SR 806 intersect that road.

End: Same place; this is a loop trail.

Camping: Not available.

Difficulty: Easy.

Difficulty: Easy.

For Further Information: Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 10216 Lee Rd., Boynton Beach, FL 33437, (561) 734-8303

Lake Okeechobee Trail

Martin, Palm Beach, Okeechobee, Hendry and Glades Counties
108 miles

The 450,000-acre Lake Okeechobee is the second largest freshwater lake that is wholly in the contigous United States. Long noted for its water-based recreational opportunities, the Florida Trail Association has now fulfilled a long-time goal of designating a continuous hiking trail that circles the lake. The trail is primarily located atop the Herbert Hoover Dike, an immense water control project, but some sections traverse SR 78 and US 27 for short distances. The many rivers and canals that feed into (or out of) the lake result in breaks in the lakefront trail that require the hiker to return to the highways to cross bridges and then return to the dike. A 'rim canal' encircles the lake prohibiting access to the dike except at designated points. In Clewiston, an Army Corps of Engineer facility blocks vehicular access to the lake, but hikers are permitted to go around a gate to get back to the trail. Though the Florida Trail Association has divided the lake hike into four sections, there are twenty-four access points, and the hiker can choose the section that is most appealing from almost any map of the area. Sometimes the distances between access points is less than 5 miles. The South Florida Water Management District provides an excellent Recreation Guide to Lake Okeechobee that has a detailed map as well as a list of access points and the facilities that are available at each. There is very little shade on the dike, so hikers should prepare according-ly. Water and supplies can be obtained from the many little hamlets and towns that cluster near the access points. Camping is also permitted at designated sites along the trail and at many campgrounds nearby.

Begin: The official beginning of the trail is at Okee-Tantie Recreation Area south of the town of Okeechobee. From Okeechobee, travel on SR 15 south for 1 mile to the intersection with SR 78. Turn right (west) and continue for about 4 miles to the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area. The trail (going east) begins off SR 78 just before reaching the park. The trail (going west) begins off SR 78 across the Kissimmee River bridge.

End: Same place. Or at twenty-four access points around the lake.

Camping: Primitive. At designated sites. Or at campgrounds around the lake.

Difficulty: Easy.

Difficulty: Easy.

For Further Information: Department of Land Management, South Florida Water Mgt. District, P.O. Box 24680, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4680, (800) 432-2045, (in-state) (561) 686-8800


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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