Results 1-10of 22 Reviews
September 24, 2009
From journal Miami - Gateway to the Florida Keys
January 10, 2009
From journal The Holiday Road Trip - Wisconsin to Florida
March 18, 2007
There are three roads into or along the Everglades: I only had time for the route through Homestead along Highway 9336, the park’s longest—a 38-mile drive to Flamingo on the edge of Florida Bay. Just inside the park is Coe Visitor Center, the principal center for the park. Stopping here for an orientation is a must: you won’t find anything comparable inside the park. The ranger recommended visiting the interpretive trails along the road for a day’s introduction to the Everglades, so that became my plan.
I stopped next at Royal Palm for the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo Trails, two very different experiences within 50 yards of each other —a quick hint at just how varied this place is. (Royal Palm also houses restrooms, which can be few and far between.) Anhinga is one of the park’s great highlights, and I did both short trails before heading down the road. Four miles later, Long Pine Key Trail cuts through the Pinelands, an unexpectedly large stand of pines stretching below the road for several miles. I was starting to realize that the watery environment of the Anhinga Trail wasn’t all there was to the Everglades. Unfortunately, I was also realizing that failing to get gas outside the park obligated me to drive to Flamingo, so I decided to save some of these stops for the return trip, time permitting.The Pinelands gave way to a large arc of Cypress forest, a great illustration of how seemingly minor changes in the environment make life possible for a very different set of species. Minor depressions from the usual elevation collect enough water to produce ‘Cypress domes’. The tallest trees grow in the deepest part, which is nearly always wet; trees on the slopes of the depression are watered less frequently, and thus don’t grow as tall. The result is a dome shape, with the tree height providing a mirror image of the hole in which they grow: short on the edges, and deep in the center.
After passing through Rock Reef Pass (elevation: 4’) you soon arrive at Pa-hay-okee Overlook. Although located amid cypresses, a short walk and modest climb up the observation tower gives a long, long view over the Shark River Slough, the miles-wide swath of fresh water slowly moving through sawgrass that prompted Marjory Stoneham Douglas to name the Everglades the ‘River of Grass’. I shared the view with a young couple from Germany who were resting on the bench. It was peaceful and perfectly quiet, with a few herons slowly taking their large steps through the grass. It lacked the drama provided by the two-dozen alligators I saw on the Anhinga. The natural response was to climb down and start exploring the prairie, but given its watery makeup, it’s just not that easy. In the end, I settled for a calming period of not-quite-solitude, watching the clouds move slowly over the landscape; then I left the place in the hands of the German slumberers.
From journal Sampling South Florida
East Berlin, Pennsylvania
February 15, 2007
For more on the Anhinga Trail, see my previous Florida journal, as we did far more in the Everglades on that trip. The only addition I have is you don't need to go early to this trail. There are less crowds early, but it takes the sun being up to get the gators moving more (though I'm told if you go at night you can see the gators hunting, etc.—MUST try that next time...) We were there about 10am and were pleased with the level of activity. We had gone earlier only to find not much going on (comparatively).
Back to the campground...REALLY nice setting among trees and overlooking a nice pond. There were few people there our night (January midweek), so we got a prime spot directly overlooking the pond itself. We took some time the next morning to hike around it...It was very quiet, and definitely had more of a sense of being safe and serene than the other option we had (motels in Florida City/Homestead)—not to mention it was quite a bit less expensive.
There are no showers here...nor any other amenity besides nature and picnic tables (and flush toilets). What they do have is miles of trails both here and nearby. You can easily explore the whole eastern side of the Everglades from this campground, and it would only be a short (45-minute or so) drive if you wanted to see Biscayne National Park as well. Everyone is welcome from tents to big RVs, but quiet is expected in the evenings. However, it's truly a spot for nature lovers—not folks looking for amenities such as pools and electricity. The closest groceries are in Florida City.
I should add that they have quite the thriving bug population so have bug repellent and eat before dark (if tenting). Be sure the tent doors are totally closed. The bug repellent works well for the mosquitos, but seems to attract the gnats. There are several bodies of said critters in our citronella candles—makes an interesting conversational piece later—but is rather annoying at the time they are accumulating.
Another downside could be the bathhouse. The ladies' side was clean and adequate. The men's side ...hubby said it was one of the worst he'd seen. That, of course, could depend on who's been there. One never knows.
Overall, for its proximity to Everglades National Park and for the peacefulness of the setting, we'd stay there again easily.
From journal Inexpensive Florida - Discover the State Parks
March 5, 2005
The marina is a good place to start (next to Flamingo Campground and Lodge). There are two crocodiles that tend to hang around - we spotted them up-close. You can buy snacks, groceries, and other assorted essentials here and there are restrooms.
The trails are well marked. Most of them are boardwalks, and all of them are suited for a hiker of any ability. If you are looking for strenuous, this won't suit you, but if you are looking for peace and uniqueness, this is really nice. One trail on this route has an observation tower (Pa-hay-okee trail) to get a view from above.
We particularly loved the West Lake trail (1/2 mile boardwalk) near the Flamingo Campground. This one takes you through mangrove forests that look like they are from another planet.
The Mahogany Hammock Trail (1/2 mile boardwalk) allows you to see some real mahogany trees, not just the furniture made from them. We also spotted an owl on this trail.
The Anhinga Trail (1/2 mile paved and boardwalk), 4 miles south of the Coe visitor center, is the best trail for viewing alligators of all sizes. You will literally see one every 20 feet (or less), at least in the dry season (February), when we went. It's also the most crowded trail, so don't expect any privacy or solitude on this one. Still, even for us privacy lovers, don't miss this trail to enjoy viewing the wildlife that is unique to the Everglades.
From journal Exploring the Dry Tortugas, Everglades, and Disney
August 13, 2007
From journal Soaking up the Sun on Fort Myers Beach
June 26, 2006
From journal South Florida
From journal The Anhinga Trail - Everglades National Park