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Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels

Gator
 
If you happen to be in Miami and crave an authentic outdoor experience
away from the trendy restaurants and clubs in South Beach, take an
hour-long drive on the Tamiami Trail (Route 41) to Shark Valley Visitor Center in
Everglades National Park.


Try to get here on the early side (before 11
am), because the parking lot fills up quick, and bring water and
sandwiches for lunch. Then rent a bike and head out on the 15-mile
paved Shark Valley Loop. Far from the deafening noise of a propeller
boat, a tourist magnet in these parts, you get to bike at your own pace
along canals teeming with alligators, turtles, and an extraordinary
amount of large birds. It took my family of four almost an hour to bike
one mile because we had to stop every 50 yards to get a photo of that
gator basking in the sun next to the bike trail. Don’t worry. They
could care less about you and no one’s ever been attacked on the route.
Usually near the alligator was an anhinga drying its wings on a branch
and wood storks and white whooping cranes standing tall in the shallow
water. There was every type of heron imaginable, from the stocky
black-crowned night heron to the long-legged great blue heron. Another
highlight were the pink roseate spoonbills resting in the dense
sagebrush along the canal. Stop midway at the observation deck to get a
good overview of the Everglades topography, a mix of sinuous waterways
and tall swaying grass. This is also a good spot to have that sandwich
or snack you brought before heading back.Click here for more Active Travels.

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