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Shark Valley-Everglades National Park

Located 30 miles west of Miami off the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) Shark Valley is in the very heart of the Everglades freshwater marsh. You may walk, bike, or take a narrated tram ride along a 15-mile loop road into Shark River Slough.

Along the loop road you will have the opportunity to view wildlife close up. Halfway around the loop is a 70-foot high observation tower providing a panoramic view of the sawgrass marsh much as it appeared to to the natives over 300 years ago.

Of course, I didn't get to walk up to the observation tower. I had loaded my bike in my car and arrived with the temperature at about 76 degrees. By the time I made it to the tower, I was overheated and the temperature had to be 90. I rode the first 8 miles just taking my time and it was a very nice ride. The trail was a dark blacktop and very nice and flat. But boy did it get hot.

These Lubbers, grasshoppers that are well known in the southeastern USA due to its large size, were out in full force all throughout the trail. They kept flying right into me and they were all over the first half of the trail. Once I completed the first 8 miles, there was the Observation Tower.

It was quite a walk to get up there so I had to pass it up because I was very overheated. I think I should have visited this park in the winter, for sure. Going up to the tower you get a bird;s eye view of the everglade vista. I stayed for about 10 minutes and then continued on to the back 7 miles to the end of the trail.

There were several of these little side walking trails to see around the trail.

I then continued on the for last segment of the trail. That's when things got pretty heated up for me. The trail is a 15 mile loop and for the last seven miles I am totally alone. Earlier in the morning 3 bike riders passed me before the half way point but this last segment I was alone. I was totally overheated and totally exhausted at the 12 mile marker. I felt like I couldn't go on. There are no trees on the back 7 to hide and the sun was just baking my ass. I had a hat on thank God or I would have died. The last 3 miles were so difficult that I wanted to lay down on the trail and die. I kept thinking a park ranger truck would come by any minute but nothing. I finally get to the end and I am whipped. I then see a park employee and told him I almost passed out. And he says "if you would have rented one of our bikes then you would have had the # to call". So if you go to Shark Valley with your own bike, make sure to get the park host's phone number even though I had no cell service the whole time.

A gorgeous park to visit with views of marshes, wildlife and gators. Bring plenty of water. I used my National Park Pass to get in but if you don't have that it is $35.00 admission. There are also trams you can take thru the park that tell you about the area and then take you to the observation tower. There is a gift shop with souvenirs and snacks and beverages.


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