Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook

Best homestead view of the river of grass

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The 0.2-mile Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook Trail uses a short elevated boardwalk to put you at an observation tower with a good view of the immensity of the Glade’s sawgrass prairie.

For as far as you can see, there is nothing but a sea of grass punctuated with scattered, island-like palm hammocks. The overlook provides excellent panoramic photos.

The lower boardwalk offers an excellent look at the sawgrass up close.  Sawgrass richly deserves its name, something better to learn by sight than by  touch. Ever had a paper cut?  This is far, far worse.

Each grass blade has tiny sharp teeth intended to discourage animals from grazing on it while also trapping water during the dry season. On
foggy nights,  dew condenses on the plant’s teeth and roll down the leaf’s  V-shaped midrib to the plant’s roots.

Sawgrass, considered one of the oldest plant species in the world and classified as a sedge (Caladium jamaicense), spans the horizon north to south for more than a hundred miles from Lake Okeechobee in the north to the Gulf Mexico in the south, and another 50 to 70 miles from east to west.

Even during the wettest periods, the average water depth in the Glades remains only 6 inches deep. Because of the dramatically different directions of the sunlight, this is another place worth photographing both morning and afternoon.

In terms of animals, birds are your most likely subjects: red-shouldered hawks, red-winged blackbirds, and that most essential scavenger, the American Black Vulture.

Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook Trail is located 13 miles (21 km) from the Coe Visitor Center on the Main Park Road to Flamingo.

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