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June 2005

Ultimate Summer Escapes: The Best Dayhikes and Backpacking Trips Near You

Coming soon to your city: far-out adventures that are shockingly close to home.


In the city

Oleta River State Park Who knew an Everglades-esque wonderland was so close? Tackle these lush trails to find a zoo’s worth of wild birds.

Just 13 miles up-sand from South Beach-spiritual homeland of $7 smoothies, Prada groupies, and a sea of perfect teeth-lies a 1,043-acre swath of genuine wilderness where Art Deco facades fade to mangrove-lined riverbanks and preening bottlenose dolphins. The layout inspires aimless wandering: 10.5 miles of signed trails loop out from a 4.5-mile unpaved service road, crisscrossing the Australian-pine forest here, tracing canals there, and abutting the Intracoastal Waterway. The mostly flat terrain features a few steep hills and sections of loose rock. Hikers may spot herons, roseate spoonbills, kingfishers, and ospreys inland; look seaward for dolphins and manatees.

Mountain bikers should pick up a free trail map at the ranger station-routes are marked for difficulty, ski-resort-style–and be sure to ask about new spur trails. The latest and greatest, called Gilligan’s Island Trail, zigs and zags, throwing you jump after jump.

Get There The park is on Biscayne Bay in North Miami, 17 miles north of downtown.

Get Info Oleta River State Park, (305) 919-1846; Blue Moon Outdoor Center, in the park, rents bikes ($12 per hour; 305-957-8822).

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