Whether you like to bike, hike or ride, National Trails Day, June 1, is a great day for everyone to get out in the “Great Outdoors.”
People of all fitness levels can walk on the two nature trails located at the St. Lucie North Recreation Area in Stuart.
“The Red Trail is 0.3 miles and the Yellow Trail is 0.7 miles. The two trails are connected, so you can walk a whole mile if you choose,” said park ranger Paula Bratschi. “The gates to the St. Lucie North Recreation Area open at 7 a.m. and close at 6:45 p.m. Please remember that for your safety, bicycles must be walked across the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, and remember to bring along some water to stay hydrated.”
In addition to the trails at St. Lucie Lock and Dam, visitors can enjoy walking, hiking, rollerblading, bicycling and horseback riding around Lake Okeechobee. Designated as part of the Florida National Scenic Trail in 1993, the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) is an approximately 110-mile trail encircling the lake. More than half of the trail is paved, and the remainder consists of a two-track gravel roadway on top of the 35-foot high Herbert Hoover Dike.
The height above the surrounding area provides hikers, bikers and wildlife watchers with scenic vistas of the lake. The trail is open year round and can be used for hikes of almost any length. There are also many organized events for bicyclists and others throughout the year. There are 14 camping areas available on or adjacent to the trail. No fees or permits are required for trail use, and access can be gained from any of the recreation areas located around the lake.
Bratschi, an avid nature photographer, encourages people to bring their cameras along on their hikes. She has taken many beautiful photographs of scenery and wildlife along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail atop the Herbert Hoover Dike.
“The LOST Trail offers miles of trail and the best views of Lake Okeechobee,” said Bratschi. She also cautions, “Some sections of the LOST are closed due to construction on the Herbert Hoover Dike, so please check out the Jacksonville District website for the latest information before heading out.”
“Both the trails at St. Lucie and LOST are great venues for biking, hiking, photography, bird watching and critter viewing. Come on out, breathe some fresh air, get your heart pumping and burn some calories while enjoying the great vistas!” said Bratschi.
For more information on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, including a trail map with facilities and access points, and a map of closures due to Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation construction projects, visit: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Recreation/LakeOkeechobeeScenicTrail or the Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway Facebook page, which includes photos and events. “Like” us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/LakeOkeechobeeOWW.
National Trails Day event information is available at http://www.americanhiking.org/events. Information about the 22nd annual Big “O” hike, in November, is available at http://www.floridahikes.com/big-o-hike. It’s the longest-running group hike in Florida history, and offers options from a few miles on opening day to the full nine-day, 109-mile hike.