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
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.