Before You Go:
This trail can be tricky. Lake Okeechobee is the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the continental United States. The trail bed is built upon an earthen dike that surrounds the lake. The terrain is relatively flat and the section I rode through was absolutely treeless. Sunscreen is definitely required as well as a good pair of sunglasses. I would also recommend insect repellant. I rode this in November and there were numerous insects.
The trail head I chose for this ride was Port Mayaca Locks and Dam. The trailhead is located on the northern side of the lock off U. S. Highway 441/98. Watch for the signs as you approach from either the north or the south.
The trail is 29 miles – from the northern side of the Port Mayaca Locks and Dam to mile 50E and back to the Port Mayaca trail head.
A word of warning to those not familiar with Florida during the summer. There is absolutely no shelter on this trail. It is relatively treeless and you are riding atop a dike surrounding the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the continental United States. Pay attention to the weather forecast and the sky. Lightning strikes, during the summer months, are a reality and you ARE the tallest thing around for miles. You could probably find shelter at one of the locks that you cross every so often.
Second words or warning. Bring insect repellent – even in the dry months. I rode the trail in late November around Thanksgiving and was stung and had to turn back.
Third words of warning, again weather related. Pay attention to the winds and plan accordingly. What might seem an easy ride may be much harder on the return. The winds off Lake Okeechobee are notorious for being persistent and strong. There are no natural wind breaks along the lake.
The trail bed itself is in relatively good shape. By the way you cannot circumnavigate the entire lake without venturing on surrounding roads. And, if your goal is to circumnavigate the lake, be aware that the entire trail in not paved. Being spoiled, I only plan to cover the paved portion of the trail.
All in all a fine ride. Do exercise caution crossing Old Highway 50 – it tends to be a fairly busy road and the crossing occurs near a curve in the road.
- There are no facilities along this section of the trail. You could, though, venture off the trail at one of the lock crossings and probably find water and restrooms.
- The scenery can get monotonous.
- No facilities.
- You are pretty much alone. The day I rode, I didn’t see anyone else on this portion of the trail. Make sure to bring your cell!
- Lots of opportunity to watch wading birds along the shoreline.
- The Port Mayaka locks. It is interesting to watch boats navigating through the lock.