Shingle Creek Regional Park in Kissimmee is the northernmost navigable point in the Florida Everglades system. From this point, just minutes south of Orlando’s world-class theme parks, these waters journey south to the Florida Bay — more than half the length of the peninsula away. Along the way, Shingle Creek passes through a chain of lakes (including Lake Tohopekaliga), whose waters feed into the Kissimmee River. Gathers tributaries along the way, the river becomes the primary source of water for Lake Okeechobee (another Florida Natural Wonder) and the Everglades (yet another Florida Natural Wonder).
Back at the park, this is where it all begins. There are three entrances >> The north entrance is located at 2491 Babb Road in Kissimmee. This is the historic Babb’s Landing and the northernmost navigable waters. The old Babb homestead is well-kept, including pole barns and ancient vehicles. Recently added is a reconstructed pioneer village, adding to the historic touch. There are wide boardwalks and paved paths, wide open fields, massive oaks decorated with Spanish moss (some with picnic tables beneath), wild meadows…and, of course, the headwaters. This is a great location to bring the whole family and is completely accessible for those with mobility issues. Babb’s Landing is more park-like than the south entrance and much bigger.
The south entrance, known as Steffee Landing, is located at 4266 W. Vine Street (192), Kissimmee. Here sits a restored cabin built in 1990. Just west of this entrance, across Shingle Creek, is another parking area and the Steffee Homestead. A pedestrian bridge crosses Shingle Creek between these 2 entrances. This is a busy road and the entrances are easy to miss, but if you venture here you’ll find more gorgeous areas to explore — right off a six-lane thoroughfare. It amazes me that you can look in one direction and see walls of majestic cypress giants lining Shingle Creek on both sides as far as the eye can see, then turn around and see hordes of vehicles whizzing by.
And yet, the view of nature is so spectacular that the traffic behind you fades away to less than a distant hum. By the way, if you want to do some kayaking, canoeing or paddle-boarding, you’d want to put in at this entrance — the water’s a fair distance from parking at the Babb Road entrance. This end of the park actually passes under the road. There are picnic tables on both sides, as well as wildlife and beautiful views. Personally, I prefer the side opposite of the parking area.
Did I mention it’s Free? Ya, you can thank Osceola County Parks and Recreation, along with their partners, for that. Imagine, you can go right up the road to any major theme park and expect to spent upwards of $100 per person per day, conservatively. Yet right here lies a sleeping beauty, quietly nestled away, that you, your family and friends can all enjoy for the price of gas. And this is where the Everglades all begins, one of Florida’s Natural Wonders. Free. Dip your toes in the Everglades system’s water right outside of Orlando. Go ahead, drop this one in your Florida’s Bucket List for Nature Lovers. Check out the Photo Gallery!
Heads-Up >> Be sure to check out our Shingle Creek Update! They’ve added a new paddling center at Steffee Landing >>
And a Pioneer Village at Babb Landing >>
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