Where’s the best view of Lake Okeechobee’s wildest shores? It’s hidden in plain sight in the town of Lakeport, in a park that’s alternately known as the Harney Pond Canal Recreation Area and Margaret Van De Velde Park.
While the paved trail here is short, it’s long on great scenery and a prime birding spot along the lake.
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Length: 1.5 miles round-trip
Trailhead: 26.986658, -81.066144
Restroom: near the boat ramp
Land manager: Glades County
Open for day use except for boaters, who use the facility at all hours to access Harney Pond Canal and Lake Okeechobee.
When birding the shoreline, be very mindful of snakes, alligators, and alligator nests. Don’t enter areas where you can’t see what’s around you, especially deeply vegetated areas.
From US 441 in Okeechobee, follow SR 78 west to Lakeport, or from US 27 in Moore Haven, follow SR 78 east to Lakeport. Look for the turnoff for Harney Pond Canal at the canal and commercial area with gas station and motel. Follow the road around to the recreation area.
This long, linear county park extends out into Lake Okeechobee from the Herbert Hoover Dike and connects up to Lakeport via a paved bike path.
The Florida Trail heads northbound from a gate along the levee where you first drive into the park, extending along a natural surface segment past Dyess Ditch up to Indian Prairie Canal.
Continue down into the park. It tends to be very busy with boaters around where the restrooms are, but you will find parking space there.
Park anywhere near the restrooms, out of the way of boat traffic, and walk or bike down the paved path along the edge of Lake Okeechobee.
Where the paved path loops at the end of the park, there is a fishing platform and picnic pavilions. The old restroom facilities there have been locked and looked abandoned. The end of the peninsula is a popular spot for bank fishing.
On our earliest visits to this park, we were delighted by the stellar views provided from a perch on a high boardwalk at the park’s very tip. However, that boardwalk vanished in 2017. We hope it will eventually be replaced with a new overlook.
Our slides from Harney Pond Canal Recreation Area
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Providing access to the Kissimmee River, C. Scott Driver Recreation Area is also an important trailhead for the Florida Trail along Lake Okeechobee
3.8 miles. On the sweep of Lake Okeechobee shoreline between Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, expect some of the best birding along the lake as you walk along the dike
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