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The historic railroad bridges built by Henry Flagler in the early 1900s, to connect the Florida Keys to the United States mainland for the first time, are now a central component of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. On January 22, 1912, Henry Flagler rode the railroad to Key West where the project was heralded by the press as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Today, all of the remaining 23 Flagler Railroad Bridges have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Trail users can now travel the path of Flagler’s famous rail journey as they cross these bridges and learn more about Flagler’s historic achievement at the Pigeon Key Museum just south of Marathon. At the trail’s end in Key West, there are many more historic and cultural points of interest to explore, including Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Wildlife viewing experiences within the park will vary depending on the season. In the cooler months you will be more likely to view some migratory bird species, which are heading south to escape the extreme cold.
One of the best ways to experience the Keys' colorful communities and beautiful scenery is on foot. The longest, continuous section of paved trail is currently located in the Upper Keys between mile marker 106 at Key Largo and through Mile Marker 72 at Islamorada, Village of Islands. Other sections of trail have been completed as noted on the map. Where there is no existing trail, hikers may, with caution, follow the shoulders of the road since the trail generally parallels U.S. Highway 1.
Haw Creek Preserve State Park offers a serene paddleway on a pristine blackwater creek through an old Florida cypress swamp that leads to Crescent Lake. The park can be accessed by launching a boat, kayak or canoe at the Flagler County public boat ramp called Russell Landing.
Fishing is allowed on many of the trail’s historic bridges. Cantilevered fishing platforms have been added to the sides of selected bridges including the Channel Two Historic Bridge, Tom’s Harbor Cut and Tom’s Harbor Channel historic bridges and the Long Key Bridge. Rules for shared use of the bridges are posted at the ends of each bridge, along with containers for recycling fishing line that presents a danger to marine life.
All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. A fishing license may be required. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
As we proceed into our winter season we are seeing the return of our friends from the north, welcome back! Reservations for the campground are made with Reserve America, contact them at (800) 326-3521.
With the cooler weather arriving, more and more people are enjoying outside activities.
Take a bike ride along the Overseas Heritage Trail, paddle out through the mangroves, Kayak rentals are available from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., or try your luck with a fishing pole.