Okay, so first of all, I’m beginning to realize that Florida has A LOT of State Parks. And I know California has it’s share but none of which I lived relatively close too, other than some of the beaches. I’ve lost track of all the places I’ve put on a list to visit here in Florida that end with “State Park.” And that’s very exciting to me because Joey and I both love exploring outdoors and hiking.
So over the weekend we hit another state park, Myakka River. What brought this park to my attention was it’s “Canopy Walk.” This Canopy Walk allows you to learn about and see life above the treetops, as you walk across a 100 foot bridge suspended 25 feet above the ground and then climb up a tower, 75 feet in the air.
It’s a beautiful sight from the top and fun to wobble your way across the bridge, but we were fairly disappointed at how short the bridge actually was. We thought it would be much bigger and be a sort of “hike” through the forest and tree tops. It takes less than 60 seconds to walk across the bridge and isn’t as high up as we were expecting it to be. The tower on the other hand, was the real highlight of the trip. Being that high above the ground and above the tree tops themselves was a unique experience.
The Myakka Canopy Walk was the inspiration of canopy scientist Dr. Margaret D. Lowman and the tower is currently being used to monitor the invasion of an exotic weevil, a small beetle originally from Central America that was accidentally released in Fort Lauderdale, FL in 1990. Wherever the weevil invades, it kills off the local airplants (species of plants that grow high up on the bark and branches of trees), some of which are very rare such as the ghost orchid. So having a watch tower high above the trees has been very helpful to Dr. Margaret and her team.
Another attraction in Myakka River State Park is an area known as “Deep Hole.” It’s a large gathering hole home to more than 200 alligators. Because of the danger of the pathway (it’s a dirt road along the river and banks where the alligators can be seen sunbathing) and the area itself, you actually have to go into the visitor’s center to get a permit to gain access to it. With the permit they give you safety instructions and things to watch out for like threatened alligator behavior, etc. Sadly, because of all the tropical storms and Hurricane Hermine that have recently hit Florida the path is completely flooded and we were unable to make the trek to the Deep Hole.
Side note- that isn’t completely true, I mean we could have done it, the State Park Ranger gave us some instructions- beginning with you’re going to need knee high waterproof boots to get through the water (wouldn’t even know where to get some that aren’t Steve Madden brand ;)) and the warning that because the trail itself is submerged in water there runs the risk of alligators resting where they normally wouldn’t, making the likelihood of literally inching past one much greater. So um we passed, to which he kindly let us know that most people do after he gives his spiel. I mean, DUH, who is going to voluntarily put themselves potentially inches away from a wild alligator!
So while the trip wasn’t a complete waste, it wasn’t exactly as grand as we were expecting. The scenery was beautiful and we did learn some unique things about alligators I didn’t know before, such as:
- Alligators are especially attracted to dogs. Most human attacks in the wild have happened to people hiking with dogs. Alligator specialists believe alligators become irritated by the scent of a dog and will initiate an attack.
- There is currently now way to visually distinguish male vs female alligators. However, an alligator guarding a nest is most likely a female.
- Alligators can sit at the bottom of a river for hours when the water is cooler but need to breathe every few minutes when the temperature is warmer.
Hopefully once the weather drys up we’ll be able to venture out to Myakka again and make the hike to the Deep Hole!
Until next time, xoxo,