Many times visitors to Everglades City have asked us where they can walk out in the Everglades, and there are many great places along the Tamiami Trail. If they are headed west to Naples, I suggest the Fakahatchee Boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend and the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge; and if they’re driving east to Miami, I recommend Kirby Storter Boardwalk in the Big Cypress National Preserve. There are also many trails (or spurs) off Janes Scenic Drive if they are traveling north on SR29.
But now we have our own Everglades City Boardwalk for those hanging around town or who don’t have the time to drive outside of the area. Jungle Erv (Ervin Stokes), whose ancestors were the pioneering families of Fakahatchee Island (the Daniels andthe Browns), has rebuilt and upgraded his “place in the woods” on Dupont Island, just before you drive over the bridge coming into Everglades City. The Boardwalk takes you through the shady mangrove tunnels where you might spot the pileated woodpeckers nesting in a hollowed out tree or snakes hiding in fallen trees. His son, Christopher, was my guide who provided an educational talk about the alligators they have in the “Gator Slough” and allowed visitors from Germany to hold one of the 3-year olds for a photo shoot.
The Boardwalk also goes along the Barron River in an area designated a manatee sanctuary. Ervin says his future plans will include an extended Florida Wildlife Show with alligator wrestling and more wildlife. For now it’s a peaceful walk in the mangroves.Surprisingly, there were no mosquitoes around noon in mid-May as I enjoyed the cool breeze from the river. There were airboats with tourists passing by and they also seemed to be appreciating the beauty of the Everglades.
If you have scheduled an Airboat Ride with Jungle Erv’s ($39.99), there is no entrance fee for the Boardwalk and Alligator Show. If you’d like to take a walk along the Boardwalk and learn about the history, the wildlife and the alligators, there is a $4.99 entrance fee for adults and $3.99 for children. Local full-time residents of Everglades City area are provided free admission; it’s a mangrove park in our own backyard. For more information, call 289-695-2800.
Patricia Huff has lived in Everglades City for the past 17 years and is the Publisher of the local newspaper The Mullet Rapper.