I’ve paddled a lot of trails in the Everglades, but so far, the Turner River is my favorite. It goes from pristine cypress swamp, through mangrove tunnels to sawgrass marsh, and it teems with birds, gators and fish. It’s everything the Everglades offers in one trip.
Parks, Forests & Preserves
This Miami state park, 10 minutes from sprawling Aventura Mall, is a remarkable island of green where you can kayak, mountain bike, picnic and enjoy a sandy beach. There are even rustic cabins to rent.
This large state park in a rural, out-of-the-way part of Central Florida, preserves Old Florida cracker history. It offers great hiking trails and camping plus lakes to explore by kayak or canoe. Wildlife, from deer to alligators to sandhill cranes to eagles, is abundant.
MacArthur Beach is one of South Florida’s treasures: Nearly two miles of natural, dune-lined beach with rock outcroppings and a reef that makes it a great snorkeling site.
Myakka is one of the oldest and biggest state parks, a great place for seeing wildlife, from huge gators to flocks of birds in winter. Go here for its log cabins, appealing camp sites, excellent kayaking, extensive hiking and good bike trails. It’s also a good spot for nature neophytes, who enjoy the airboat ride and canopy walk.
Remote, rural and picturesque, northwest Florida rewards your long drive with sparkling springs, the beautiful Suwanee River and scenic rural roads. Two state parks with cabins and campgrounds make great bases to explore the region.
You don’t have to drive hours off the interstate to find Florida’s natural beauty and funky history. You can find treasures within 10 minutes of these I-75 exits.
Loop Road is famous for being a wild place. (That once applied to the people as well as the animals.) It’s a gravel road off the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s a rewarding place to explore.