Starting Location: Parking lot at Shark Valley Visitors Center in Everglades Park. I don’t know why it’s named Shark Valley as there aren’t any sharks in the middle of the Everglades but that is what it’s named.
Parking: There is a fee to get into the park and it is best to get there early as there is a limited amount of parking inside of the park. We saw a lot of people parking along the highway that leads into the park and then walking into the park. There was no place to park our bike trailer but our trailer can be folded up and pushed under our car so that we can park in a regular parking space.
Description: This biking adventure was organized by the Healthy Chicks Meetup group. Shark Valley is a 15.5 mile flat asphalt loop that only allows pedestrians, bicycles and the park’s tram. The park has strict rules about not feeding the wildlife and not bothering the wildlife. As a result the wildlife pretty much ignores humans so long as you stay at least a few feet away the them. This makes for some very interesting biking. Besides the alligator poop that is all along the trail (it isn’t as bad as it sounds) you are within a few feet of birds with their wings wide open drying them in the sun and alligators sunning next to the trail. We even saw turtles laying eggs right next to the trail. When you get to the southern end of the trail there is a place to secure your bike and take a walkway to the 45 foot high observation tower. The tower offers a tranquil vista of the Everglades, extending outward 20 miles in all directions. There is additional information about the park and its history at the top of the tower.
Bike Rentals Availability: Visitors without their own bicycles may rent them from the rental area for $8.00/hour on a first come-first serve basis. A driver’s license or I.D. will be required for a deposit on rental bikes. All the rentals are single gear, coaster brake type bicycles with adjustable seats to accommodate different heights. Baskets and helmets are also available for all rental bikes. In addition, there are some 20″ children’s bikes, and several bikes available with child seats for children of 35 pounds or less. Bicycle rentals begin at 8:30 a.m. and may be rented until 4:00 p.m. Rental bikes must be returned to the rental office by 5:00 p.m.
Amenities: Public restrooms and water drinking fountains at both the beginning of the trail and at the opposite end of the trail. Also there is a gift shop that stocks an assortment of items at the beginning of the trail.