Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail Open

New Section from Moore Haven to Pahokee Opens

CLEWISTON, FL. (Nov. 23, 2004) -- Outdoor enthusiasts today have 62 more miles of natural Florida to explore around the liquid heart of Florida. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille joined federal,state and local officials to cut the ribbon on more than 60 paved miles along the 110-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. "This unique trail increases access to the great outdoors and one of Florida's treasured liquid gems," said DEP Secretary Colleen M. Castille. "While traversing picturesque landscapes, the trail takes bikers, hikers and horseback riders through rural Florida, bringing economic benefits to the surrounding communities along the trail."

The 110-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail circles the second largest freshwater lake in the contiguous United States. The trail is located atop the Herbert Hoover Dike, which surrounds the lake providing flood protection and scenic lakeside views. The new paved trail runs 26 miles between the Port Mayaca and Okeetantee Park at the Kissimmee River, and another 36 miles from Alvin Ward Park to City Park in Pahokee. Signs along the trail direct outdoor enthusiasts to environmentally and culturally significant points of interest.

Under construction since 2002, the $13 million trail takes users through communities at the heart of Florida's agriculture industry including Clewiston and Belle Glade. The hiking, biking and equine trail affords opportunities for viewing wildlife such as herons, egrets and a variety of wintering waterfowl. The area surrounding the lake also has a rich history of inhabitants dating back to the Creek and Seminole Indians in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is a partnership between DEP, the Florida Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Trails Association and local partners. In 1993, portions of the trail were designated as part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, one of only eight national scenic trails in the U.S. More than four thousand miles of trails cross Florida's diverse landscape through rural and urban areas. Over the last five years, the State added nearly 450 miles of trails to its system of greenways and trails. Each year, the state invests $4.5 million through Florida Forever to purchase land for future trail areas and build and maintain Florida's greenways and trails.