Best Place to Mountain-Bike - 2006
The Everglades Conservation Levee
Readers' Choice: Markham Park
Dang hurricanes. Not only did last year's batch of storms flood our yards, close our businesses, and leave us without electricity for, like, ever but they chewed up and spat out big chunks of public parks. This was especially problematic for mountain bikers in Broward or Palm Beach counties, who never had much in the way of challenging terrain to begin with -- just Quiet Waters and Markham parks, really. Now here we are in the spring, and only half of the trails at Markham have reopened; a park attendant at Quiet Waters says groundskeepers "haven't even gotten to [the bike trails] yet. They're still cleaning up the campground." That leaves people who want to ride, and ride hard, heading out to a place simply known as "the levee" -- essentially a long, flat gravel road on top of a mound of dirt that holds back the swampy Everglades. The route begins at Markham Park (16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise; go west on the trail near the entrance and walk your bike around the concrete barriers) and you can either ride north until you get tired (Loxahatchee State Park is about 20 miles away) and then turn around or make a 27-mile loop using about three miles of State Road 27 and five miles of State Road 84 (which gets exciting when those Mack trucks fly by!). Although you might spot deer and gators, one rider calls the punishing adventure "not fun at all" but considers it great for endurance training; another described it as "a spinning class with mosquitoes." So, yeah... it's not for pansies. Newbies should contact the friendly folks at Synergy Outdoor Adventure Racing (www.soarteam.com), who won't mind you tagging along on their weekly ride -- and won't laugh if you turn back early.