We now live in South Florida and the Everglades National Park is only a couple of hours away (map). Although we had been to parts of the park that is accessible off the Tamiami Trail (the southern-most portion of US Route 41), back when my parents lived in Naples, we had never actually been to the park headquarters, near Miami.
When we got to the Visitor Center, the first thing I noticed was a sign listing events happening that day. The event that stood out was an open house at a Nike Missile Base within the park boundaries. After picking up a map, we headed to that site. Although there was to be a guided tour, our timing was such that we decided to skip the tour and go directly to the open house. Since there were volunteers at the site, who answered questions and explained the displays, we didn’t actually need to wait around for the tour.
I remembered seeing a Nike installation along Lake Erie, in Cleveland, (just north of Burke Lakefront Airport, operational 1956 – 1963), when I was much younger. The site in the Everglades (HM69) was completed in 1965, 3 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and was operational until 1979. It was the last operational Nike site in the U.S.A..
Our next stop was a short trail, identified on the map as Pinelands Overlook.
Then Pa-hay-okee Overlook.
As we were running out of time to make it all the way to the end of the road, we settled on going only as far as Mahogany Hammock trail. This was the best area we hiked, primarily because of the animals we saw. In addition, the boardwalk is well maintained and “…meanders through a dense, jungle-like hardwood ‘hammock.’ Lush vegetation includes gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree (Swietenia mahogani) in the United States.” (definition of hammock)