For a trip back in time, take a driving tour of the Big Water Heritage Trail located near Lake Okeechobee between West Palm Beach on the east coast and Fort Meyers on the west coast. This is an area of south central Florida that links to the land of Native Americans, widespread agriculture and top-notch fishing opportunities. For the optimum experience, spend several days exploring the towns connected by the trail.
A Trip around Lake Okeechobee
The name of the Big Water Heritage Trail comes from the Seminole word for Okeechobee, meaning “big water.” And Lake Okeechobee is in fact very big – 730 square miles. An automobile tour on the trail will take you around the lake to numerous towns and points of interest, 13 of which feature kiosks and Big Heritage Trail brochures for information. Prepare to see historical architectural styles, Seminole War battle sites, railway depots and navigational locks. Evidence of earlier inhabitants from Indian Mounds to prehistoric traces may also be seen along the trail.
Explore Historic Towns
Follow the scenic Big Water Heritage Trail to explore the towns that surround Lake Okeechobee.
- Okeechobee: Travel through sugarcane fields to Okeechobee on the northern shore of the lake. Here you will find a subtropical habitat, natural vegetation and thousands of head of cattle that make Florida one of the nation’s foremost producers of beef. Birdwatchers will enjoy the opportunity to see endangered bird species like the limpkin, the wild turkey and the snail kite. To reach the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation, take SR 70 to CR 721, about 20 miles away.
- Port Mayaca and Indiantown: Continue 27 miles by driving along the north shore of Lake Okeechobee to Port Mayaca, Indiantown and the St. Lucie Canal. Port Mayaco of SR 76 is home to the DuPuis Management area where visitors can camp, hike fish and ride horses through an area teeming with wildlife. The St. Lucie Canal is known as the sole waterway to connect Florida towns on the east coast with communities on the Gulf of Mexico. The Seminole Country Inn in Indiantown is a charming spot to stop for lunch.
Belle Glade and Clewiston: Drive 13 miles on US 441to Belle Glade and visit the Lawrence will Museum, featuring historical documents and archeological gems from the region. The Torry Island Bridge is an original swing bridge still operated by hand. Clewiston offers airboat tours on the lake, and an historical heritage tour by Sugarland Tours.