March Project of the Month – Visit Lake Okeechobee

Okay, not technically a project but after over 28 years in Florida I felt like I should at least see Lake Okeechobee.  It is after all the largest lake in a single state in the US, the second largest lake bordered completely by the US (largest is Lake Michigan) and 7th largest lake in the US (thank you Wikipedia).

My husband and I had talked about taking the Okeechobee Waterway across the state in our boat years ago but never did.  The approximately 15 hour trip would have taken us from Florida’s east coast, through Lake Okeechobee (via several canals, locks and rivers on each end) and over to the Florida’s west coast.

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So this month we took a picnic lunch to the lake by car (about a 45 minute drive to the Port Mayaca – the closest viewpoint from our home).  After looking at Google Earth I had very low expectations of what we would find but I at least wanted a look at the lake and the lock at Port Mayaca.  Both the Atlantic and the Gulf are lower than the lake so there are two locks on the east side and three on the west side to raise and then lower boats to and from the lake.

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There is a dike around the lake (for a 100 mile circumference) and a trail around the top of the dike (LOST: Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail) so you can’t see the lake from the road.  You have to get to the top of the dike.  What I hadn’t expected was a nice slope from the top of the dike down to the bank of the lake with a couple of benches to sit and look out.  This is a picture from the bank of the lake looking back up at our car parked on the top of the dike.

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I did expect the vastness of the lake, but being an ocean girl all my life I was surprised at how ocean-like it felt and how peaceful and relaxing it was.

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The pictures below show: the view from the south side of the lock; the view from the north side of the lock; a tug boat moving through the lock; the view of the west side of the lock (the Lake Okeechobee side); a view looking back to the canal from the east coast of Florida.

And this is a view from the east looking west past the lock to Lake Okeechobee.

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All in all it was a fun day and I’m glad we finally made it.  It was definitely worth the trip!