Wednesday 8 November 2023

The Old Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key, Florida

We recently spent a few days in Marathon, part of the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are the string of small islands which stretch from the south eastern tip of mainland Florida to Key West. It takes about two hours to drive from Miami to Marathon Key, which is located in the Middle Keys. We stayed at the Isla Bella Beach Resort which is a fantastic resort in a beautiful location, and is situated just opposite the entrance to the Seven Mile Bridge.

The Seven Mile Bridge connects Knight's Key, part of Marathon, to Little Duck Key. There are two bridges here, the modern road bridge and an older bridge. The older bridge was originally a railway bridge and was then converted to a road bridge before the new bridge was completed in 1982.

Although most of the older bridge is still standing, it has fallen into disrepair and only the 2 mile section which connects Marathon to Pigeon Key has been restored. Reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, it can be used to access Pigeon Key and is also a lovely walk with great views and the opportunity to look for sea life in the water below.

Entrance to Old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key

There is a good sized car park at the entrance to the bridge. There were always spaces when we visited (late October) and I would imagine that turnover is pretty quick as many people just hop out for a quick look. There are also some informational boards so that you can find out more about the history of the bridge.

Old Seven Mile Bridge informational sign

The walk across the bridge to Pigeon Key is 2 miles, however entrance to Pigeon Key is only possible with paid admission (see details here - Pigeon Key. Paid admission to Pigeon Key also includes transport across the bridge via tram. If you just want to walk across the bridge like we did (or run, or cycle!) then be warned that it can be a hot walk with no shade (although there may be a breeze), and because it's just a bridge there are no toilets or other facilities along the way or in the car park.

Old Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key

There are distance markers painted along the bridge so you can see how far you have left to go if you are walking to Pigeon Key. Initially we set out to walk the entire distance, but we quickly realised that there was no benefit if you aren't planning to visit it! In fact you only really need to walk a few hundred metres across the bridge to really appreciate it.

If you want to look for sea life in the water below, a good tip that we were given is to stand at the part of the bridge which is over a pillar. You can identify this by looking for where two parts of the outer railing have a smaller gap in them, like in the photo below (there is an inner railing in front of this one):

Looking for sea life at Old Seven Mile Bridge

The water below here was often smoother and so it was easier to see underneath the surface. We were also told that this is where the larger sea creatures lie in wait for the smaller fish. 

We spent quite a lot of time looking for sea life over the bridge! It took several visits, but we saw jellyfish, lots of really large rays just under the surface, some creatures that looked like huge sharks with their fins above the water, and lots of things jumping and splashing before we could see clearly what they were! We also saw lots of birds. People on the bridge at the same time saw turtles, but we kept missing them!

The Seven Mile Bridge is also a lovely place to watch the sunset, either from on the bridge itself or from just to the side. In the photo below you can see the new road bridge in the foreground, and the restored old bridge is the blue one just behind to the right.

Sunset at Old Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key

If you are visiting the Keys then the Old Seven Mile Bridge is a must stop. It's a great way to break up the long journey from Miami down to Key West, it's easy to find, and if you are staying in Marathon then you have a great opportunity to pop back at different times of the day to see what you can spot!

1 comment:

I love reading your comments!