Florida Trail Extension – Key West

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Campsite Visitor

Start:  Loop Road, Big Cypress National Forest

Finish:  Southernmost point in the USA, Key West

Distance:  188 miles (302.6 km)

Time:  5 days (January 16-20, 2012)

Daily Average:  37.6 miles (60.5 km)

Total Distance:  1325.6 miles ( 2133 km)

Highlights:

  • Sunrises and sunsets.
  • About 15 alligator sightings in the space of 40 minutes on the final section of the Southern Glades Trail (just before the junction with US 1).
  • Reaching Key West and the southern most point in the continental USA (see photo below).
  • Catching up with my old friend, Regina, who was down in the Keys for a regatta. Thanks to both her and all of her sailing buddies for their wonderful hospitality (see photo below)!

key-west-boat-crew

Lowlights:

  • Over 100 miles of walking on or besides Highway US 1. By far the worst stretch of all was Seven Mile Bridge. With barely an 8 feet of shoulder to walk on and vehicles speeding towards you at 55 mph plus, you never really have a chance to relax and take in the gorgeous views. All it would take is one dozing or texting driver to lose concentration and you would be in serious trouble (ie. ‘pancaked’ or diving over the side for an unexpected dip in the Atlantic Ocean).

Notes & Musings:

  • Most hikers I had spoken to who had started their Florida trips at Key West, had been of the opinion that although the road walking sucked, all in all it was worth the effort in order to experience a unique part of the United States. In retrospect, I would have to disagree. Yes, the Keys are gorgeous and definitely worth visiting. However, this is a place which needs to be experienced on or in the water, not on foot. My recommendation is to spend your time fishing, swimming, diving or sailing and rent a car or even a bicycle to get you from A to B.

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