Yule Like a Swamp Ride

Guess what I did on Christmas Day? While you were slaving over a big ole' dinner, I was spinning my wheels through the Fakahatchee Strand.

What's the Fakahatchee Strand, you ask?

It's a preserve and state park in South Florida's Everglades, a long swath of swamp about 20 miles long and 5 miles wide with uplands hiking trails and a nice dirt road up the middle for bikers and drivers. More native orchid species grow in this 75,000-acre wilderness than in any other place in the world! You are likely to see orchids, along with a few gators and other swamplife, on one of the ranger guided Swamp Walks every 1st, 2nd and 3rd Saturday of the month.

On the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk on the southern end of the park you can spot an eagle's nest, lots of gators, herons, egrets and Roseate Spoonbills. I took a stroll on the boardwalk (see photo) and then took a ride along the 11-mile Janes Scenic Drive starting at the Ranger Station.

It's a flat, smooth gravel road with very little car traffic, so it's perfect for an easy ride (22 miles roundtrip).

There are no admission fees, so this is a cheap, enjoyable date or family expedition. For more information on the park or the Swamp Walks, go to floridastateparks.org and click on Fakahatchee Strand. Happy trails!