Sustaining Community Lands, Inc.
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What is the Martin Grade?

Hazy Morning on Martin Grade
Amazing when enlarged.  Just click.
Photo by Tom Claud

The road that time forgot.    A drive across the Martin Grade is a drive through the beauty of Old Florida – through land that time seems to have forgotten.   To the east lie barrier islands, rich lagoons, and flowing rivers that characterize Florida’s Atlantic Coast.  To the west lies Lake Okeechobee, the second largest fresh water lake in the United States.  In between, are the Allapattah Flats, remnants of the impenetrable sloughs and wet prairies that once made up the Alpatiokee Swamp in the northern Everglades.

Cattle on the Allapattah Flats
Modern cattle on old land.
Photo by Paul Strauss

The road back to the land.  Although the land along the Grade has been altered by more than a century of human use, much of it has been targeted for public acquisition and protection. The remainder is being used just as it was used 100 years ago – for cattle grazing and citrus.   Time on the Martin Grade once seemed to be standing still, and now seems to be going backward.


 The road back to nature.  The Grade takes you to the 22,000-acre Allapattah Flats Wildlife Management Area, which is open to the public year-round. Recreational opportunities include hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, primitive camping, hunting. fishing and wildlife viewing. Visitors may hike or bike on the five mile long trail system leading to an open marsh popular with wading birds. There are separate trails for equestrians as well as a 150-acre riding area.

Allapattah Flats Bicycle Trail
Biking the Allapattah.
Photo courtesy of SFWMD

Egrets are everywhere, standing like statues.  Click to enlarge.
Photo by Paul Strauss

Fox Brown Equestrian Trail
Riding the Seminole Ridge.
Photo courtesy of SFWMD