Oleta River State Park: The Complete Guide

beach and mangroves in Oleta River State Park, Miami, Florida

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Oleta River State Park

Address
3400 NE 163rd St, North Miami Beach, FL 33160, USA
Phone +1 305-919-1846

Historically, Oleta River State Park was a favorite place for early settlers. By the 1890s, pineapple and vegetable farms started popping up all along this fertile river (then named "Big Snake Creek") that connected the Everglades to Biscayne Bay. Located only 30 minutes from downtown Miami, today, Oleta River State Park provides an outdoor oasis for those who want to flee the city and connect with nature. Mountain bikers, anglers, paddleboarders, and swimmers flock to Florida's largest urban park to spend a day with family and friends, exploring all the outdoor wonders South Florida has to offer. The park is also a convenient stop for long-distance paddlers tackling the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.  

Things to Do

Oleta River State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset every day of the year. Countless activities will keep you busy all on a short excursion, all-day outing, or overnight camping trip. Hike, run, and rollerblade three miles of paved trails, and then retire to the beachside barbecue pits and picnic area to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with family, sunning yourself and swimming.

Paddlers and boaters can enjoy snaking their way through the mangrove channels of the calm Intracoastal Waterway. From your paddleboard, canoe, or kayak you can enjoy the park's flora and fauna, like egrets and herons, hermit crabs, and, occasionally, visiting manatees or dolphins. Snorkelers can get up close and personal with marine creatures by taking a dip in the saltwater lagoon, and anglers can test their skills by fishing the surrounding waterways.

Mountain bikers flock to this urban park known for some of the best off-road biking in southern Florida. The park's fifteen miles of designated mountain biking trails range in difficulty level from beginner to expert, and linking them can provide you with a quick, challenging workout or an all-day endurance drill.

You can also stay the night here, camping the old-fashioned way or “glamping” in one of the park's rental cabins. Three primitive campsites are available only for groups, and quaint one- and two-bed cabins can be reserved ahead of your stay.

Best Hikes & Trails

A three-mile paved trail is the only designated hiking trail in the park. However, miles of off-road biking trails can also be accessed by hikers. Stick to the green and blue trails on the park's map to assure that hardcore bikers won't approach you at a fast clip, and always exercise trail etiquette, stepping off trail when bikers want to pass. Standing or loitering on trails is prohibited.

  • Oleta River State Park Trail: This 3-mile, heavily trafficked loop offers a quick refuge for city-dwellers to get in an after-work walk, run, bike, or rollerblade outing. The trail has very little elevation gain (only a few hills) and offers expansive views of the water. Watch out for bikes, kids, and dogs on leashes.
  • Oleta River State Park Mountain Bike Trails: Hikers can venture out onto one of 15 miles of biking trails in Oleta River State Park. Do be aware that the trails are marked in the direction they are meant to be traveled and bikers can come upon you fast. If you're looking for a serene hiking experience, another Florida park may provide better options.

Paddleboarding & Boating

Hop on your paddleboard, canoe, or kayak for the most pristine experience at Oleta River State Park. The park's mangrove channels offer flatwater paddling suitable for any ability level. Book a guided paddleboard trip through BG Oleta River Outdoors. Their seasoned guides will teach you the basics and have you paddling like a pro in no time. You can also enjoy a guided water tour at sunset. Then, once it's dark, your guide will turn on the lights located on your board for a paddle back to the dock.

For endurance paddlers, this park's waterway is part of the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, which is divided into 26 segments and wraps around Florida. It stretches from Pensacola to the Keys and all the way up to Fort Clinch State Park, which is near the Florida-Georgia line.

Where to Camp

The camping amenities at Oleta River State Park include three primitive group sites and 14 cabins. This is urban camping and glamping at its best, as you can wake up in the morning and enjoy the trails and waterways with a view of the Miami skyline as your backdrop.

  • Group Site: Three primitive group sites can be reserved ahead of time at Oleta River State Park. Each site accommodates 30 tent campers and comes complete with a picnic table, fire ring, restroom, and cold-water showers. a shared pavilion can be accessed by each group, and pets are not allowed.
  • Cabin Rental: Enjoy one of the cabin rentals at Oleta River State Park, complete with a covered porch and picnic table. Most cabins offer a double bed, one bunk bed, and air conditioning, and they are available to reserve up to 11 months in advance. Linens are not provided (bring your own), and restrooms and hot showers are located nearby. There is a two-night minimum stay in the cabins on weekends and over holidays.

Where to Stay Nearby

Located in the heart of Miami and only minutes away from Miami Beach, Oleta River State Park is surrounded by your pick of hotels and resorts. Head to the park for some exercise—a bike ride or a paddle—and then relax at a beachside hotel, complete with all the amenities.

  • Sole Miami: This North Miami Beach hotel is located only a mile from the park and offers newly renovated rooms and its own private beach. Nearby Golden Beach, Bal Harbour, and Aventura deliver a pulsing cultural city experience, and the guest rooms, suites, and long-term one- and two-bedroom vacation rentals here lend all the comforts of home. Relax poolside after a long day or grab a bite to eat in the locally-inspired, on-site restaurant.
  • Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort: This Miami Beach hotel offers spacious accommodations with its one- and two-bedroom suites, complete with either full or partial ocean views, city views, and private balconies. This resort's oceanside pool hosts daily family activities and its beach rentals, like umbrellas, chair cushions, tiki hut cabanas, jet skis, and volleyballs assure you a full day of fun in the sun. Complete with four restaurants and one bar, you'll never have to leave the premises to feed the family, morning or night.
  • Beachwalk Resort Hallandale Beach; Voted the best beach resort in Florida, the Beachwalk Resort Hallandale Beach delivers a Miami-modern experience created by Italian designers in collaboration with Ferrari. Enjoy your stay in one of their superior rooms, boutique suites, or penthouse suites, and take advantage of on-site amenities, like a 1,000-square-foot fitness center, an infinity pool, an on-site bistro, a poolside bar, and a grab-and-go market.

How to Get There

Just 30 minutes from downtown Miami, Oleta River State Park is accessible by car. taxi, bus, or Uber/Lyft. From the south, take the I-95 Express route to FL-826 Eeat in Golden Glades and follow this route straight to the park. From the north, take Exit 12B off of I-95 North. If you’re coming from any other direction, consult your smartphone or GPS, as traffic can be less-than-magical in the Magic City.

It's best to confirm the most seamless route to Oleta River State Park the night before your visit. Plan your trip accordingly so you miss both bouts of rush hour, as you won't want to be stuck on the highway before or after a fulfilling outdoor expedition.

Accessibility

Oleta River State Park welcomes visitors of all ability levels, assuring a full experience of the park. The park provides beach wheelchairs and beach access via Mobi-mats, an ADA-compliant canoe and kayak launch and fishing pier, and an accessible picnic pavilion and benches. You can also book a stay at the one accessible cabin and take advantage of portions of the butterfly garden, ADA-compliant restrooms throughout the park, and designated handicap parking spaces.

Tips for Your Visit

  • The Oleta River Outdoor Center is open from 9 a.m. until 90 minutes before sunset. They rent canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and mountain bikes, and offer snacks for sale. 
  • Educational tours of the park's on-site butterfly garden can be arranged through the park office. Commonly seen butterflies include the zebra longwing, gulf fritillary, cloudless sulphur, large orange sulphur, and the atala.
  • Not far from Aventura Mall, Oleta River State Park is just a stone’s throw from some of the best shops, restaurants, and beaches in South Florida.
  • Florida law requires bike helmets for cyclists age 16 and under, and the park recommends helmets be worn by all cyclists on its grounds.
  • Boaters or paddlers who bring their own vessels are requested to launch from the area just west of parking lots 5 and 6.
  • Lifeguards are not present at this park. swim at your own risk.
  • If you spark an appetite at the park, head to nearby Oishi Thai for sushi. At Oishi Thai, you can choose from both Japanese or Thai dishes, including ramen and chicken katsu, sushi, and sashimi. Pair your meal with hot or cold sake or a Japanese beer.
  • The park is near Fort Lauderdale, as well. Take an afternoon to explore FAT Village, Fort Lauderdale’s famous artist community—one that's bubbling with creative energy, coffee, and cool workspaces.
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The Complete Guide to Miami's Oleta River State Park