As the second largest lake entirely within the United States, Lake Okeechobee is a vast freshwater inland sea, fed by marshlands that stretch up both sides of the Lake Wales Ridge all the way to the outskirts of Orlando. Its surface covers 730 square miles, most of which is only navigable by airboat or jonboat due to its marshy shallows. Navigational channels are clearly marked.
With more than 42 miles of the 110-mile shoreline, Glades County provides access to the shallow western marshes along Okeechobee’s rim between the Kissimmee River and Caloosahatchee River. While most of the lake is circled by the Herbert Hoover Dike, built in the 1930s to mitigate devastating flooding caused by the tragic hurricanes of the 1920s, a three-mile stretch of shoreline near Lakeport has no dike, but broad, shallow marshes that define the floodplain where Fisheating Creek, the only natural waterway remaining along the lake, meets the Big Water.
Lake Okeechobee is renowned for bass fishing, birding, duck hunting, and boating—it’s part of the inland waterway used by boaters to cross coast-to-coast between Port St. Lucie and Fort Myers. It is not, however, tempting to paddlers, thanks to its ever-changing weather across the vast expanses and its healthy population of alligators. Thanks to the Herbert Hoover Dike, there are no condos along the lakeshore, no sprawling cities, just thousands of acres of natural lands, ranches, and sugar cane fields. The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail leads you to access points along the lakeshore so you can go fishing, birding, bicycling, hiking, and boating.