Florida Day Seven: A Frosty First Hike To Lucky Hammock And The Old Aerojet Road
I awoke early on Monday morning in Florida City. I wanted to watch the sunrise and then hike on the old Aerojet Highway and visit Lucky Hammock. This would be my first hike on the Aerojet Highway. I had hiked along the the Aerojet Canal last year. This wide canal was built to transport massive rocket engines, too large to transport by land, from the large Aerojet manufacturing facility to the Cape Canaveral , via the canal and Atlantic Ocean during the space race of the 1960’s. The Aerojet Highway was the land road to the huge Aerojet facility, which was closed and abandoned many years ago.
I was glad I bought a hoodie at the No Name Pub on Big Pine Key. It was a frosty 41 degrees when I left my hotel in Florida City. I bundled up with a few layers of tee shirts and drove to the entrance to the road a few miles before the entrance to the Everglades National Park.
The trail is really just a wide paved road that was used to access the Aerojet Facility. It at first passed through some agricultural areas and fields. I believe, if it weren’t so cold there could have been a lot of birds seen here. But it was cold and the only birds I heard, I didn’t see any, were northern cardinals and gray catbirds. Like in the Dagny Johnson State Park in Key Largo, they were close to the ground and making a lot of noise. As I noted then, I don’t think they liked the cold.
After s short distance, about a half mile the trail passed Lucky Hammock. I had learned that, in this hardwood hammock, over 300 species of birds have been sighted. Not on this cold morning, the only bird I seen , on my walk around the hammock, was a northern mocking bird. It was a good sign since this is one of my favorite birds and a favorite of my late father too.
I was in panther country, and I was told of sightings in this area, however, any hope to see this elusive animal, or any other mammal was dashed when I heard a strange loud sound coming toward me on the trail. I soon learned it was this kid on a skateboard, making enough noise to wake up the entire Everglades. It was 7:30 in the morning. I now guess he was probably skating the 3 1/2 miles to the ruins of the abandoned Aerojet Facility. I was not happy to see him and his noisy skateboard.
The road or trail soon left the hardwood hammock and came to a canal on one side of the trail and open fields on the other. I was glad to walk along the open field since it allowed the welcome rays of the sun warm me up.
Now it appears this is a big hangout for the local younger generation as evidenced by their artwork or graffiti. I was impressed. It is almost a four mile hike to get here. They had to either hike, bike or skateboard to get out to this remote site. I wondered where the young skateboarder was. I am sure he met up with friends somewhere on this vast site.
I took many photos of the graffiti and many more can be seen by following this link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the old Aerojet facility. Florida Day Seven: Everglades Lucky Hammock hike January 16 2023.
a little blue heron,
Walking along the canal I also saw this critter, on the other side. It answered my own question of whether there were alligators in this canal. I continued my hike along the canal, but I was a little more careful now.
and. as I approached the parking lot at the trailhead I saw these turkey vultures on the trail, with their wings spread. They , for some reason. made me think of the scene in the Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf said to the Balrog, “You shall not pass”. Well anyway the vultures flew off, I passed and ended my 8 mile hike. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike Florida Day Seven: Everglades Lucky Hammock hike birds January 16 2023.
It was near noon now, and I was hungry, so I returned top the Farmers Market for a hearty breakfast, and spent the afternoon editing photos and actually relaxing at the pool in bright sunshine but still cool Florida air. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos of my hike Florida Day Seven Everglades Lucky Hammock January 16 2023.
I had already hiked 8 miles, and was a little tired, in my younger days I could easily have hiked another 8 miles, but I am not young anymore. But I was in Florida, and there is a lot of cool stuff to see , so late in the afternoon, I decided to return to the Lucky Hammock to look for some.
Once again I was surprised to find no one out here. It may have been the cool weather, but I still wondered why the local folks weren’t enjoying these beautiful natural trails. I didn’t see much on my 1 mile hike. Just some more pretty flowers, including these Mexican primrose -willow flowers, and
I also was treated to another spectacular Florida sunset. It was a great way to end another wonderful day in Florida. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my sunset hike Florida Day Seven Everglades Lucky Hammock sunset January 16 2023
and then an apple cobbler with ice cream. Another delicious meal it was. I was exhausted, and after editing some photos, was ready to sleep, looking forward to my drive to Flamingo in the morning. I love the Everglades.
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills