Florida Everglades: Chelle 1, Mosquitoes 3,452

Braving the new Marsh Trail at 10K Islands NWR

OK, I  didn’t actually count them. But judging by the swatted sampling still stuck to my skin by the time I slammed my car door – quickly – that’s about how many skeeters I encountered on the quarter-mile hike to the new observation tower on the new Marsh Trail at Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge this week.

What was I thinking? Stepping foot into the Everglades in September DEET-less? And clueless, one might think.

The good news: From the top of the ramped tower, the buzzing little vampires desisted, and I could enjoy the view without slapping myself silly. And OK, while I’m admitting, the view was worth giving blood for.

The entire trail stretches 1.1 miles through a saltwater marsh sandwich. The first quarter-mile to the tower is paved. Scopes on the tower’s two decks zoom in on the shorebirds and gators populating the placid panorama of subtle wetland beauty.

This is the first true public-use facility at the raw, wild refuge, so don’t pass up

View from the observation tower on Marsh Trail

a chance to explore it. The parking lot lies right off Highway 41 between Naples and Everglades City.

Just don’t forget the bug juice.

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