* * *
Type: Wooden walkway through a cypress swamp
Time: Five minutes or as long as you like
Kelly says: Best for bird watchers
Through an iron gate, across a heavy swinging wooden bridge over an algae-tinged moat with yet more alligators, lies what Gatorland bills as the headwaters of the Everglades. From here, so the sign says, water flows through the Kissimmee lake system to Lake Okeechobee and, thence, to the Everglades.
What we see on this leisurely walk is a wilderness setting with a quiet calm and a very special type of beauty, made all the more enjoyable because, thanks to the raised wooden walkway, we don’t have to wade through the muck and the cottonmouth moccasins and the poison ivy to appreciate it. Most folks walk through at a brisk pace, but if you linger you are likely to be rewarded with glimpses of birds and other wildlife that more hurried tourists miss out on.
Much of the Orlando area looked just like this before people started draining the wetlands to farm and, later, build shopping malls. Only the soft whoosh of traffic on nearby highway 441 reminds us that we are in modern, not primordial, Florida.
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