Everglades Welcome To Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
The Everglades Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Last Friday we finished work early and decided to load the bikes on our new bike rack and head to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Park in Boynton Beach along State Rd 7. It was a quick ride out west and as it turns out it was well worth it. The park consists of 143,954 acres of Northern Everglades and Cypress Swamp. There is a levee around the “glades” to keep the water out, otherwise we would all be in 2 feet of water. The park was established in 1951 and it is the last remaining swath of the Northern Everglades. The rest has been taken for our use.
We parked and unloaded the bike with the wet prairie to our backs. What I didn’t notice right away was an alligator not 3 feet away from us. Lucky for us it was only 3ft long. I’m positive that as it was looking at our backs he was dreaming of rump roast for diner.
The ecosystem in the park consists of wet prairies (that’s where that gator was), sawgrass ridges, sloughs, tree islands, cattail communities and a 400 acre swamp, which is the largest intact cypress area remaining in the eastern everglades system. To learn more about these different systems visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ARM_Loxahatchee/wah/habitats/
As we biked along the top of the levee, one has a great view of the entire area. Birds were everywhere hunting for food, you could hear birds chirping away, it was nature’s symphony and we had front row seats. Over the year over 250 birds either live in or visit the park as they follow there migratory path. To learn more about what type of birds are in this park click here http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ARM_Loxahatchee/wah/birds/ I was relaxed almost immediately. Remember I said almost, there were alligators everywhere. We saw at least a dozen in the 2 hours we were there. Besides the gators deer, raccoon’s, otters and bobcats make their home in the park.
The park has a number of trails to hike, bike, or paddle through in your canoe or kayak. Trails like “The Marsh Trail”, “The Cypress Swamp Boardwalk” and the 5.5 mile canoe trail in the Everglades. This canoe trail offers a great way to see and explore the “Glades” close up. The watery trail starts at the boat ramp This trail takes you through sawgrass marshes, tree islands and wet prairies. Wildlife is everywhere. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the boat ramp. They even have a full moon canoe trip every month. It’s a 2 hour trip and well worth it. All the creatures are out and about and communicating with each other. It’s a little spooky. The cost is only $10.00. Call 561-733-0192 for more information.
The park has an a visitor center with interactive exhibits. The virtual airboat ride and the night sounds of the “glades” are two of the most popular
There is a group of people who got together and formed The Friends of Loxahatchee. Their website is www.loxahatcheefriends.com Their goal is to promote a better understanding and appreciation of the natural history and environment of the park. It’s worth visiting their website if you are planning a trip there. They have detailed information about the park.
After leaving the park we stopped at Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market right at the state rd 7 intersection. It’s another great place to stop with the kids or without them. Lots to do there and plenty of locally grown produce. In season you can even pick your own strawberries and tomatoes. It doesn’t get anymore farm to table than this. Here is a link to Bedners www.bedners.com
Bedner’s farmers market on State Rd 7
All in all it was a great idea to take some time off and enjoy afternoon. Give it a try it’s good for your soul.
Watch a video of the park.
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