Florida Day Six: Key Largo: A Hike On The Wrong Side Of The Aerojet Canal
I learned a lot about the Aerojet Canal and the Southern Glades Trail my first few days in Florida this year. As I explained in my previous blogs, this canal was used to transport rocket engines from the the city of Homestead to Cape Canaveral vis the Atlantic Ocean during space race in the 1960’s. Well I also learned that the Aerojet canal ended at the Manatee Bay near Key Largo. And along it was the Southern Glades Trail. So, of course I wanted to hike and explore this new area when I returned to Key Largo, as I have these past three years.
I left my resort early, it was about a 25 minute drive to the trailhead located on Highway One. I wanted to get there before sunrise. I was told by a friend to park at the boat ramp parking area and cross over the Highway One bridge over the Aerojet Canal to access the Southern Glades Trail. I did and it wasn’t a good idea crossing the bridge with the heavy traffic on Highway One.
Well, it seemed the red-bellied woodpeckers like them. There was a number of them squawking in the trees. One, it looks like a juvenile flew closer to the trail allowing me to get some nice close up photos of it’s pretty red head,
Nearby, hopping on the branches of the mangrove trees and seagrape plants near the ground was another pretty, but much smaller bird, a blue gray gnatcatcher.
And there was also a few palm warblers in the trees near the trail.
As I got near the two large communication towers I found flocks of turkey and black vultures perched on the towers, there were dozens of them. It was a good opportunity to compare the two species. This is a close up of a pretty turkey vulture,
and this of a handsome black vulture. Not pretty birds in my opinion but then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am sure other vultures find them attractive.
The access road soon ended. Another canal joined the Aerojet canal preventing me from reaching the Manatee Bay. I considered swimming across but decided it wouldn’t be a good idea because I had my camera and iPhone and, there may be alligators swimming in these waters too. I turned around hoping to find a way to access the Southern Glades Trail on the other side of the Aerojet canal before I left Florida.
red -winged blackbirds. They are very common in the wetlands near my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, large flocks of these birds should be migrating through my area any day now. They are noisy but a sound of warm weather that I love to hear. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Six morning hike birds February 17 2022.
As I was photographing these birds I noticed a gate in a fence that surrounded a bridge over the canal. I didn’t see in when I walked past earlier in the morning. I walked through it and found that you could access the Southern Glades Trail this way. It had red markings on both side of the the canal indicating to me it was open to the public. I knew where I’d be hiking the next morning! I was going to see Manatee Bay!. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website where more photographs of my hike on the Aerojet canal can be viewed. . Florida Day Six Key Largo morning hike . February 17 2022.
It was late morning now so I returned to my resort, showered and drove a few miles on Highway One to Harriette’s , know their great breakfast. And it was a good breakfast. After editing photos and checking in with my office I spent some time at the beach at the resort. It is a great place to relax. But not for too long. I was soon off on an afternoon hike. And one final note, as I was finishing up this blog, I was watching the heartbreaking news of the suffering of the people of the Ukraine from the brutal and unjustified invasion by Putin the evil dictator. So sad. I am 1/4 Ukrainian. My thoughts are with this brave people as they fight for their freedom and independence.