The Village Walk Bike Club had an cycling event to Shark Valley which is part of Everglades National Park. Since national parks are always on my radar I decided to join in on the fun. Dave C who is visiting for the winter joined me as well as my new friend Jim N.
Here is a link to the Everglades National Park website.
It is a massive park with lots of camping ( if you like camping with alligators and snakes!) and hiking trails. It extends from Dade County near Miami all the way to Everglades City which is Collier County. Mixed in all of that is Big Cypress National Preserve
Here is a link to Big Cypress National Preserve.
There were 14 in total who carpooled from Village Walk and it took us about 90 minutes to arrive at the park entrance. If you blink you will miss the entrance to the park. It's a very small sign and one tends to look at the Miccosukee tourist attractions just before the entrance to Shark River.
Here is a link to the learn about the Miccosukee Indians and their village.
Shark Valley has a visitor center where tram rides and bike rentals are available. It's also the start of the 15 mile paved trail ( it's a loop trail) to view alligators and other wildlife. You can often find alligators sunning themselves on the paved trail but this day they decided that the water and the banks of the canal along the path were much better for sunning and lazing through their day.
At the visitor center in front of the bike trail guide
There are sites along the trail to the left of the canal but it's hard not to focus on all the huge alligators sunning themselves on the banks....some of those banks right near your pedaling feet.
Look closely at this photo. There are 4 baby alligators on the bank (photos courtesy of Dave C)
On the left side of the trail I saw a bobcat walkway that was under construction. Maybe on the next visit I will be able to explore this trail.
The first stop and one of the only stops on the trail at mile 7.5 is the lookout tower. There are plenty of bike racks to hold your bike while you walk up to the top.
Jim in front of the lookout tower
Here is a view from the top
If you look closely you will see birds nesting in the trees. The towe is great for bird watching!
It was a long way back home. The rest of the group stopped at the Miccoukee Restaurant for lunch. Since we packed a cooler we had plenty to eat and drink on the way back to Village Walk.
It was on my bucket list to see Shark Valley and is now checked off. It will be another 10 years before I go back but it was definitely fun to do once!