We found a new way to have fun. Now that there is a finished bike path from the northern end of Summerland Key all the way past us to the beginning of Sugarloaf Key we can hop on our bicycles and bar hop.
First stop: South 3 miles to the KOA Campground Bar
Second stop: Across the Overseas Highway to Mangrove Mama’s
Third stop: Back 3 miles north to our own Square Grouper
Fourth stop: Further north 3 miles to The Wharf Bar and Grill.
Then south again 3 miles back to Jolly Roger Drive.
The only thing you have to watch out for is when the bike path crosses the Highway. When this occurs you need to be VERY careful. However, we even had the traffic stop for us. That was kind of scary. Otherwise it is wait for an opening and make a dash for it!
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) is coming to Cudjoe Key. The “Old State Road 4” road bed, which was all overgrown and ripped up, first got graded and prepped for paving. Then it got paved. Very nice!
It now runs way past Blimp Road, all the way to where it will cross the highway around the Sheriff’s Substation. This is part of the Summerland Key to Sugarloaf Key trail section. All of it is under construction.
This makes the bike trip to the end of Blimp Road a very pleasant trip. No more branches in the face. The trip to the KOA Campground Bar and Mangrove Mama’s is also now a breeze. Who knows, maybe Sugarloaf Lodge and the Bat Tower will be on the Biking from Cudjoe short list.
I have no idea when it will be completed, but it shouldn’t be too long. I can’t find an updated schedule on the internet.
For more information about the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail go to: http://fkoht.net/.
We have six of these Mango Cruiser bicycles in the storage room. They are all aluminum so they don’t rust. They are great for riding around the neighborhood or up to the fish market to get seafood for dinner. There are also lots of places in the local area to go exploring, like Blimp Road or Loop Road. Also, it looks like the Overseas Highway Bike Path is going to be completed in this area pretty soon. They are working on it like crazy.
There are three boys bikes and three girls bikes. They all have gears. four of them have seven gears, two of them have three gears.
Each bike has a removable basket and a lock. Three have pumps.
Cudjoe Key’s singular and distinguishing feature is the unmanned Navy surveillance blimp (don’t get technical here), Fat Albert.
Fat Albert is tethered to the ground by a cable and flies on almost all days with good weather. Fat Albert is located at the end of, what else, Blimp Road. To get close enough to photograph it though, as in this shot, you must be in a boat.
Bicycling to the end of Blimp Road is a nice ride from the house (maybe 2 or 3 miles). You just cross the highway and take Old State Road 4 to where it intersects with Blimp Road (at Coco’s Cantina, now closed, sob).
Fat Albert looks for drug runners and other smugglers, and broadcasts to Cuba.
It is great to have this “landmark” to steer by when returning to Cudjoe, although exactly where it is can be a bit confusing.
There is a very detailed article here: http://www.n-the-florida-keys.com/Fat-Albert.html
Fresh seafood right in the neighborhood!
Up on the highway is the Fanci Seafood market. They have moved from where the picture was taken. They are just about a quarter mile West now. You can still bicycle there on the road behind the store.
Another seafood store got their lease. Who knows?
They have fresh local shrimp, lobster, stone crab, and fish (Grouper, etc., yummy!).
I think they just changed their sign after changing their name a while ago.
They also sell a great shrimp cleaning tool that we have two of at the house.
Prices are not cheap, but the catch is fresh and excellent. They are open seven days a week until 6:00 pm. (Their website says they are not open Sundays, but I swear they are.)
Walk or ride a bike (take a basket) and bring back the makings of a great meal. Take a left at the last street before the highway and go through the open gate to a gravel parking lot.
They also carry bait, chum, and ice.
22.5 Overseas Highway
Cudjoe Key, FL
In the 1920s, this unusual structure was built by Mr. Perky to lure and house bats that would surely solve the mosquito problem and allow a planned resort to flourish.
Not so fast, as you can read in Joy Williams’ Guide to the Florida Keys.
This structure, which is in amazingly good shape (though still batless), is just a few miles from the house. See if you can find it.
Just 14 miles back up the Keys (mile marker 37) is the wonderful beach at Bahia Honda State Park.
Chosen in 1993 as “Best Beach of the Year,” this beach has a gently sloping sandy bottom with clear, warm waters.
There are also changing and showering facilities, picnic shelters, a concession with recently lowered prices, and camping and RV areas.
The beach is perfect for a long walk along the ocean’s edge. Read about all the other things you can do at the website below.
There is an admittance fee of (currently) $8.00 a vehicle.
36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043
We often bicycle from Cudjoe to Sugarloaf to go to the KOA Campground, or its neighbor Mangrove Momma’s. Both of these make nice destinations for a drink (KOA after 3:00pm).
If we want to bicycle more extensively on Sugarloaf, we put the bikes in the car and take them to the Surgarloaf Lodge where we mount up and ride through the Sugarloaf housing area, which is quite nice, all the way down to Loop Road.
Loop Rood is a closed off loop of asphalt road that can be walked or bicycled without fear of traffic. If you don’t feel like biking all the way from the Lodge, you can also park near the entrance.
You just walk your bikes around a barrier and take the road straight, over a bridge, until you see Loop Road on your left. After about a quarter of a mile on the loop, you end up with water on both sides. Sugarloaf Sound is on your left and a lagoon inside Loop Road is on your right.
Usually there are plenty of birds in evidence.
Another interesting thing about Loop Road is that you will see some signs of recent use by cars, tire slicks for instance. This is because they stage a sports car competition here now and then. It is known as the Bay Bottom Crawl and a description of it can be found on the internet.
If Loop Road isn’t enough, you can explore Old State Road 4A in both directions. Most of this old Keys highway is very beat up and overgrown. To the east you can bike about half a mile to the burned out bridge over Tarpon Cut. If you had followed the Old State Road from the KOA Campground, you would have gotten to the other side of this bridge.
Following the maintained road to the west, you eventually come to a dead end that leaves you a similarly unmaintained poriton of the Old State Road. This section is much longer, several miles, and it goes all the way to the end of Sugarloaf Key to where a wooden bridge used to cross to Geiger Key. You can still see some of the old pilings. If you had a blow up Kayak with you, you could have lunch at the Geiger Key Marina.
When you get back to Sugarloaf Lodge, you can see if you can find the nearby famous “Bat Tower” and then have a drink at the Lodge’s Tiki Bar right on the water.
We had one great lunch by buying four different sandwiches, cutting them into quarters, and everybody trying a little of each.
Evie’s hours were somewhat variable, however, Missy N’ Joe seem to be much more reliable.
Costs more than Subway, but it’s local and really good.
22836 Overseas Highway
Cudjoe Key, FL, 33042
Today we bicycled around loop road on Sugarloaf Key. It was a beautiful day and as we ate lunch a flock of White Pelicans flew over.
Toward the end of the ride I stopped to photograph some Ibises. As I approached a little closer, they took flight.