I already shared the tour description I developed for this tour with you, but this post is a kind of “behind the scenes” look at why Dragonfly Expeditions developed “Streamside Biking along the Loxahatchee.”
“Thoughts on Developing a Tour: Streamside Biking along the Loxahatchee”
In our continuous effort to craft tours that explore the hidden corners of Florida and create unique experiences, we developed Streamside Biking along the Loxahatchee. This bike journey combines ecology, history, and exercise – and even lets us explore the river without getting our feet wet!
Back in 1985, this slow-moving stream became Florida’s first of two federally designated “Wild and Scenic” rivers and remains one of the most wild-looking places in South Florida today. Dragonfly Expeditions already utilizes the Loxahatchee River for kayak outings, but we wanted to come up with another way for our guests to experience this one-of-a-kind region. Our new bike trip alongside this winding tributary gives guests the opportunity to acquire an entirely different perspective of the river and its surrounding landscape.
A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Riverbend Park near the town of Jupiter and had the opportunity to try out this brand-new tour developed and led by Dragonfly Expeditions guide Justin Law. Our bike route took us through an area that cradles the source of the Loxahatchee River and recalls stories stretching from Indian battlefields to “Cracker” cowboys, from orange groves to alligators, and from modern-era trappers to Florida panthers. Justin, Uwe, Megan, and I pedaled along miles of trails that alternately wind throughout the diverse subtropical landscape and run parallel to the river. Our path led us across wooden bridges, onto small islands, past a recreated Seminole village, and even close to alligator swamps! Sightings of native species, including the elusive osprey and limpkin, made the magnificent views of the Loxahatchee River all the more exciting. I was glad to have our naturalist guide along to help me differentiate between the various ecosystems and point out animals that I otherwise would have missed!
But of course ecology isn’t the only thing that Riverbend Park has to offer. The place has a rich history full of excitement and bloodshed. Relics of the past, such as ancient orange trees, an antique sugar cane press, and an operational sawmill provide the perfect backdrop for storytelling.
Hop onto a comfortable beach cruiser bike and pedal back into southeast Florida’s history. Hear tales about the Seminole Indians while stopping for a breather beneath a traditional Seminole chickee. The area’s strong connection with Seminole history was one of the reasons we created this experience and two of this tour’s stops explore ancient battlegrounds from the Seminole Wars. If you close your eyes, the atmosphere of the park combined with the stories you hear make you feel as if you have stepped back in time – you can almost hear the musket fire as Native Americans battle US forces in the swamps. When you see the remnants of the pioneers’ orchards, you can imagine a flourishing orange grove full of farmers and the occasional hitchhiker looking for a free meal.
My favorite story of the day was about Trapper Nelson, an eccentric character who lived off the land and was dubbed Florida’s “real-life Tarzan.” To find out why Trapper Nelson became famous for his habit of womanizing and his personal zoo, to hear the story of his mysterious death at the river’s edge, and to discover the origin of the term “Florida Cracker,” you will have to join us on our newest biking adventure: Streamside Biking along the Loxahatchee!