EVERGLADES CITY — Whitewater paddling in the Everglades? Well, almost. The tides move in and out of the Ten Thousand Islands so quickly, the water rushes and ripples through the passes, so you need to catch the current going in the right direction if you want to make headway.
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Load your bikes on your carrier and head north to Old Florida. Along this bike trail, you can stop and hike a bit and maybe even see gators, wild horses or even bison in Paynes Prairie. This pretty paved trail also lets you use your gears on a hill or two.
This Gainesville area state park is a vast playground for hikers and bikers, but also for bison, wild horses and, sometimes, thousands of sandhill cranes.
You can take a slog through the swamp to see native orchids, a buggy tour through cypress swamp or a guided bird walk or plant identification walk. All the events are free.
Robbie’s Marina is a don’t-miss stop as you drive through the Florida Keys. Dozens of tarpon, some more than 6 feet long, gather at the dock and lunge for fish from visitors. The restaurant there, the Hungry Tarpon, is highly recommended , too.
The park is beautiful, and the paddling opportunities are numerous, but the campground is just fair. The spring is a great place to swim when you seek to escape the summer heat, but you can’t swim here in winter because its overrun by manatees seeking safe haven.
Driving through the Florida Keys, you are sure to see the warnings for Key deer — but you may not see the deer themselves. There are some sure-fire ways to do see the little fellows, though, and one of them is an evening bike ride on No Name Key.