While many people think of parties, nightlife, and beaches when it comes to Miami most don’t realize there is a different side to South Florida than this stereotype. Tucked away in this little known area of North Miami Beach lies a hint of what the days of old once held for South Florida. Oleta River State Park offers kayakers and mountain bikers a distinctly South Florida outdoor experience doing activities that are not distinctly South Floridian in nature.
About Oleta River State Park
Oleta River State Park is a gem of an outdoor experience on the Biscayne Bay that most sun seekers pass while on their way to North Miami Beach. It usually goes largely unnoticed or garners only a brief comment like, “we should check out that park sometime,” only to lose it from thought until the next trip to the beach. Directions to Oleta are fairly simple. Its address is 3400 N.E. 163rd Street, North Miami, Florida 33160. Just head east on 163rd street and it will be on your right hand side before you go over the bridge to the beach.
The nature of the park is one of water, palm trees, sand, gravel, mangroves, and wildlife. There are picnic areas, party pavilions, a wonderful protected beach with shallow water entry, camping, cabins for rent, and fishing, mountain biking and kayaking for the adventure seekers in the group. The wildlife is no joke either. Of course, there’s birds and fish to see but don’t count out an encounter with a dolphin, sting ray or manatee.
Kayaking at Oleta River State Park
The kayaking at Oleta River Park offers both a nice protected Florida paddling adventure for the whole family and a paddling experience into wider waters for those that want it. The trip starts out in the mangrove trails and can stay there if paddlers wish. However, its just a short paddle into Biscayne Bay, where the clear waters, views, and the opportunity to kayak with dolphins easily lures boaters out of the tree canopy.
The kayak launch is fairly obvious and easy. Just drive into the park and you’ll see the Blue Moon Outdoor Center, a large structure in the middle of the park, on the left. The rental fleet of kayaks on the right marks the clearing in the mangroves to launch your kayak. If you’re renting, there’s no need for a reservation. Just show up and rent everything from a sit-on-top recreational kayak to more advanced sea and touring kayaks. If you’ve brought your own gear, you can probably launch anywhere you see an opening to the water.
Mountain Biking at Oleta River State Park
Oleta River State Park is best known for the 16 miles of mountain biking trails it has. Some of the best single track trail riding in the state of Florida is found at this over 900 acre urban park tucked into the trees on the way to the beach. The technical trails contain lots of roots, coral, bends, and man-made obstacles to navigate around, over, and through. There are also flat smooth trails for those just looking for a nice bike ride in the shade.
The entrance to the Oleta River bike trails is located immediately before the kayak launch and right next to the Blue Moon Outdoor Center. Which by the way contains a bike repair shop as well as rents all levels of mountain bikes for kids and adults, including Specialized FSR XC mountain bikes. This makes it easy for your out of town buddy to experience South Florida mountain biking. While they may crack a joke before the adventure, they won’t be laughing once they’ve experienced it first hand.