- Lisa Parsons
Evening on the Levee
Everglades Conservation Levee Trail
We had no idea when we headed for the levee that runs between civilization and the Everglades, that it is a thing. The Conservation Levee Greenway is an unpaved, 48-mile path that stretches from Miramar to Parkland Florida. The levee and the path are dividing line between the wild Everglades and the cities along the east coast of Florida.
A local transplanted from North Carolina told us about the levee that sat high above the Everglades where we could walk our dogs and let them off leash. Given that everywhere we went dogs seemed to be outlaws we were happy to get the scoop on a place we could take our dogs. Although we would still have to watch out for alligators and snakes.
We drove up the dead end road just on the other side of Sawgrass Parkway. Cars were parked along the road outside of the parking lot down the sides of the road. It looked very busy. We lucked out and found a spot someone had just vacated.
Between the parking lot and the levee was a roadway over a large culvert. On either side of the road was water. Along the waterway inside the levee were fishermen casting their lines in the water.
We walked up onto the levee. Along the levee was a white gravel road lined with tan grasses. Everything on the sides of the levy had been mowed making it easy to keep a lookout for snakes or gators. There were a lot of people sitting in their camp chairs looking out over the Everglades. Many sat with beer in their cup holders. They relaxed as the Florida sun started to sink towards the vast flat Everglades. People were walking out in either direction on the road that seemed to disappear into the horizon in both directions. To the south far on the horizon were city skyscrapers. To the north was a view of Everglades to the west and Sawgrass Parkway on the east. There was also a dirt road that went from the Levee road out into the Everglades to a highway on the other side. Many people were walking out there.
We walked south where there were less people. The golden light on the grass along the roadway made it feel as if the road was endless. Beyond the levee the tall Sawgrasses interspersed with open water and lily pads were the beginning of the eastern edge of the undeveloped wild Everglades. Out in the glade some taller trees poked up and on them were flocks of birds returning to roost for the night. Woven into the reeds were glimpses of Egrets and Cormorants along the more open waters.
As we walked we came upon a dead snake with a white rock from the roadway sitting next to it. Evidence that this place really does have deadly creatures that hide in tall grass, trees, and bushes. It seems like humans have cut a swath of civilization that temporarily has an edge but is always at risk of being consumed by nature as storms rage, waters rise, vines spread, grasses grow tall, and creatures migrate. To hold back the tide an artificial line, called a levee, allows places like Miami and Fort Lauderdale possible.
The sun sank to the horizon line glowing just behind a line of cloud. The light settled on the tall grasses. The sounds of night started to creep into a rhythmic hum of insects and roosting birds. We turned around and returned to our car. Night belongs to predators.
As we walked back we saw more people with camp chairs enjoying the last light. It seemed that there were more people on the levee now then when we arrived. We stopped and talked with a family of five that was enjoying the evening and admiring our dogs.
As the light turned deeper blue and orange I looked back up onto the levee and saw the dark figures of fishermen returning from their fishing spots, bicyclists riding and people walking back with the setting of the sun. It seems that the levee is a happening place to be on a Saturday at the edge, between the city and the wilderness.