Martin Grade Scenic Highway
Just east of Lake Okeechobee and a half an hour west of Stuart, in the southeast portion of the state, is a beautiful road that time seems to have forgotten. This is the Martin Grade Scenic Highway – County Road 714 – but the locals simply call it “The Grade”.
This historic 12-mile road is shaded by a canopy of oaks a century old and is surrounded by pastures, groves, swamps, and woods just as it was when it was carved out of the wilderness by the region’s earliest settlers.
To the east lie barrier islands, rich lagoons, and flowing rivers that characterize Florida’s Atlantic Coast. To the west lies Lake Okeechobee, the second largest fresh water lake in the United States. In between are the Allapattah Flats, remnants of the impenetrable sloughs and wet prairies that once made up the Alpatiokee Swamp in the northern Everglades.
The byway takes you to the 22,000-acre Allapattah Flats Wildlife Management Area, which is open to the public year-round. Recreational opportunities include hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, primitive camping, hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. Visitors may hike or bike on the trail system leading to an open marsh popular with wading birds. There are separate trails for equestrians as well as a 150-acre riding area.