I’m always looking for scenic, traffic-free bike trails near my Fort Lauderdale home, and this one is good if you like a challenge.
The good part of the Markham Park bike trails along Everglades levees
- Leaving from recreation-filled Markham Park, you can pedal for six miles with the vast vista of the Everglades, never crossing a road or encountering any vehicle traffic.
- It’s a safe family bike destination, where there’s no danger of a child veering into traffic.
- You’re likely to see a variety of birds – hawks, red-wing blackbirds, egrets, herons, grackles.
Here’s the not-so-good part:
- If you look north, the view is always beautiful, but if you look south, the view is always of I-595. There is a wide canal between the trail and the interstate, but there’s no feeling of solitude or wilderness. Along with the highway’s proximity comes the steady hum of traffic. A possible solution: Because of the lack of traffic, this would be a safe place to bike while listening to music on your earbuds.
- This is not a paved trail, it’s hard-packed small-grain gravel. While we had no trouble on either our beach-cruiser bike or our thin-tired 10-speed, it is definitely not as fun as pedaling on pavement.
- There is absolutely no shade; I would avoid these Markham Park bike trails in summer months and use gobs of sunscreen at any point.
There is another bike ride on an Everglades levee – a gravel levee path heads north from the Markham Park parking lot along the Everglades. The only problem here: Passing the Markham Park firing range and the warning sign about potential stray bullets. There is probably little to no actual danger, but our experience with firing ranges includes seeing lots of wild shots, so we turned around at this point and took the trail along the Interstate.
Some riders who have reviewed these levee trails describe them as endurance tests; these trails are probably better for bicyclists looking for a challenge than those seeking a relaxing recreational ride.
Other Everglades levee bike trails
There are other options for levee trails in the region: There’s a trailhead where Atlantic Avenue meets the Everglades and you can ride north or south (which is along the Sawgrass) or head straight west for 10 miles toward US 27.
My favorite Everglades levee ride is in northern Palm Beach County, the Bluegill Trail between PGA Boulevard and Riverbend Park in Jupiter. This report starts with details of that trail.
Resources for biking the Everglades levee trail from Markham Park
We could find little good information on this trail online, and when we went to the administrative offices at Markham Park, we were told the trails were paved. Nope. Wish they were.
Markham Park website
16001 W. State Road 84,
Sunrise, FL 33326
Parking: As you turn into Markham Park from SR84, you can take an immediate left into a parking lot for the levee trails. This occurs before you pay the $3 admission to the park. On the other hand, you might pay your $3 admission and enjoy a shaded picnic and use the facilities here before or after your ride.
Bike trail route: Google maps says it’s six miles from Markham Park to US 27, where the trail ends. On the alternative direction — north from Markham Park — the levee trail continues for 20 miles. Within two miles and after crossing the firing range warning sign, it starts to parallel the Sawgrass Expressway.
Other Markham Park recreation: At 666 acres, Markham is the big mama of Broward County parks with 10 miles of mountain bike trails, a 1.5 mile nature trail, a gun range, fishing in the adjacent Everglades, a field for radio-controlled airplanes and a tennis center with racquetball, volleyball and a swimming pool.
Markham Park camping: There are 88 sites with full hookups, picnic table and fire ring/grill for RV and tent camping, $45/night in season; $35 non-season.
Other bike trails in South Florida: Here are our favorite places to bicycle in South Florida.
Best bike trails in Florida are described in the Florida Rambler hiking/biking section.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.