||Bicycling at Shark Valley is
a great way to experience the quiet beauty of the Everglades. As the sawgrass
prairie slowly unfolds before your eyes, stop and take a moment to enjoy
the life that abounds.
The Everglades, sometimes called the "river of grass," is
seasonally dominated by a shallow, slow-moving sheet of water that flows
from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay. During the wet
summer months, the vast grassy prairie acts both as a home to a tremendous
variety of plants and animals and as a filter for the fresh water river.
These clean waters ultimately supply and nourish the productive coastal estuaries
further to the south.
Along the road are four artificial ponds. These "borrow pits" are areas where
limestone has been quarried, crushed into gravel, and then used to raise
the level of the tram road. In the winter months, when the sawgrass prairie
is dry, the borrow pits serve as water holes that attract a variety of wildlife.
Look for alligators, wading birds, anhingas, and turtles around these human-made
Dispersed throughout the Everglades are large tree islands called "tropical
hardwood hammocks" and smaller shrubby islands known as "bayheads." The hammocks
exist on limestone ridges rising a few feet above the seasonally wet sawgrass
prairie. These higher elevation areas provide a flood-free environment with
a thin layer of soil that can support a multitude of tropical and temperate
zone vegetation. Bayhead communities also exist on ridges, but since the
elevation change is less than that of a hammock environment, these ridges
are periodically inundated by water. This results in an equally varied but
different assemblage of plants. The Bobcat Boardwalk and the Otter Cave Hammock
Trail, both near the Visitor Center, provide opportunities to explore bayhead
and hammock communities.
||The tram road is 15 miles (24 km)
round trip. There are no short cuts. If you become tired or are unable
to complete the entire 15 mile trip, turn around and return on the same road.
Be aware of vehicles coming up behind you.
Bicycling the road takes an average of 2 to 3 hours, but varies with physical
stamina and personal interests. The parking lot closes at 6:00 p.m.,
so be sure to allow enough time.
If you do not have your own bicycle, one may be rented at the tram office.
Rentals are available from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and must be returned by
4:00 p.m. For more information, call the Shark Valley Tram Office at
|| Never approach
alligators! Maintain a safe distance (10-15 feet / 3-5 m) if you see alligators
on the road.
Wear a helmet. State law requires that children 16 and under wear
helmets. Helmets may be purchased at the tram office.
Racing of bicycles is not allowed. Bicycles at high speeds endanger
wildlife and other visitors. The speed limit on the road is 25 mph. Bicycles
are subject to the same rules and laws as motor vehicles.
Be prepared for all weather conditions. In the summer months,
thunderstorms can cause hazardous lightning and temperatures can range in
the low to high 90s. Take plenty of water!
Travel opposite the flow of tram traffic. Bikes should start behind
the Visitor Center and follow the straight West Road. All bikes must come
to a complete stop and pull off to the right side when a tram approaches.
Wait until the tram has completely passed to continue your trip.
Feeding or harassing any wildlife is illegal. It is dangerous for
you and harmful for them.
The collection of any natural object, living or dead, is not permitted.
Roller skates, roller blades, skateboards and other similar devices, as
well as private motorized vehicles, are not allowed on the Shark Valley tram