Everglades National Park in Florida protects the southern 20 percent of the original Everglades. In the United States, it is the largest tropical wilderness, the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River, and is visited on average by 1 million people each year. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.
Shark Valley is a geological depression at the head of the Shark River Slough in far western Miami-Dade County, Florida. It is currently part of Everglades National Park. Shark Valley empties into Shark River in the Ten Thousand Islands of Monroe County. Shark Valley characteristically includes sawgrass prairie that floods during the rainy season, hence the name “river of grass”—Pa-Hay-Okee, from the Mikasuki language—for such marshes in the Everglades. Shark Valley features a Visitor Center with educational displays, a park video, an underwater camera and informational brochures. The entrance to Shark Valley is located along Tamiami Trail (US 41) near the Miami-Dade–Collier County line.
In February 2017 I visited Shark valley in Everglades National Park and biked the 15 mile loop trail. This flat, paved road is used for tram rides, bicycling, and walking. Along the road you may see alligators, herons, egrets, deer, turtles, and snail kites.
An observation tower at the halfway point provides panoramic views.
View from the top of the observation tower
Below the Observation Tower is a short trail through a tropical hardwood hammock. Bicycles can be rented from the Shark Valley Tram Tour Company. This trail begins directly behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
When biking or walking this trail, be sure to bring sunscreen, insect repellant, and lots of water.