Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lake Okeechobee Hike Begins Saturday

Big Lake Hike Starts At Pahokee Marina

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On November 17, hikers will gather at the Pahokee Marina to kick off the 16th Annual Big O Hike and celebrate Pahokee�s entry into the Florida Trail family of Gateway Communities.

Since 1992, the 109-mile Florida Trail circuit walk known as the Big O Hike has pumped tourism dollars into small towns around the lake while encouraging hiking for fitness, drawing visitors from as far away as Ontario and California. For 9 days, participants walk from 9.3 to 14.7 miles, starting at sunrise and ending at their leisure, usually by noon.

Although flat and open, the loop trail offers outstanding scenic views, especially at sunrise and sunset, and more than 70 species of birds to add to your life list. The hike passes through five counties around Lake Okeechobee (Palm Beach, Martin, Okeechobee, Glades, and Hendry) where hikers experience the quiet side of South Florida, with opportunities to explore and rest in small lakeside communities, including a Thanksgiving celebration in Clewiston.

Pahokee has been a favorite kickoff point for the Big O Hike for many years, and this fall, the city passed a resolution to become a Florida Trail Gateway Community, drawing community leaders and Florida Trail volunteers closer together. Celebrating natural Florida together boosts not only the local economy, but the sense of community between Floridians. Major J.D. Sasser will preside over the kickoff, where the community will receive road signs and community leaders will join in the first three miles of the hike to Canal Point. 
The hikers begin at the Pahokee Marina, at 8 AM, or at any point along the hike. Joining the hike again this year is Clifton Moody, who at 87 became the oldest hiker to walk around Lake Okeechobee, and last week became the oldest hiker to complete a 132-mile cross-Florida backpacking trip at the age of 90.

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