Journey to the end of the Florida mainland
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Enter Everglades National Park in Homestead, follow the Main Road some 39 miles south and you reach the southern tip of the Florida mainland.
Nestled inside the park's Flamingo entrance, it's the gateway to wild and rugged scenery both beautiful and eerie. The cloudscapes and landscapes offer a wonderful sensory escape.
If you're lucky to be have the place to yourself for a few minutes, as I did the other day, it's easy to imagine 16th-century natives and explorers traversing the same coastline.
It's also muddy, muggy and buggy, even in December. But that's a far more preferable alternative than braving the elements in the middle of summer.
I walked part of the coastline and rode my mountain bike along nearby trails. I also had the luxury of escaping to my Honda CVR (air conditioning!) when I needed a break.
All in all, the physical inconveniences were worth it -- and if you bring plenty of water and wear sun protection, it's not bad at all. I brought a lunch and ate it at a picnic table outside the marina store, a few safe yards from a floating crocodile! (A sun umbrella over the picnic table would have been nice.)
Along the Guy Bradley Trail, a mostly-paved mile-long path along Florida Bay, I encountered a photographer setting up his tripod beneath an osprey nest.
It took me about two hours to drive to the park entrance in Homestead, where there's a $30 entrance fee (unless you splurge in advance for an $80 annual pass that's good at all national parks and national preserves -- a bargain!).
From there, it's another 25 minutes to the end of the mainland. There are plenty of stops along the way, ideal for hiking and biking.