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Twenty-five feet up in the canopy, Cannon Spencer crosses the swinging bridge.

Image: Chad Spencer

Ever wish you could explore the vast diversity of nature that lives at the top of the forest? The Canopy Walkway, a swinging bridge suspended 25 feet above the ground that traverses 100 feet of treetops, is an excellent way to do just that. The first public treetop trail in North America when it was built in 2000 as a partnership between the Tree Foundation and the Friends of Myakka River, it quickly became one of Myakka River State Park’s most popular attractions. Here are some of the wonders of nature you may see.

Giant and cardinal air plants, which currently are under attack by the invasive bromeliad weevil

Butterfly orchids, colorful heart-shaped orchids that grow prolifically in hammocks and swamps from Central Florida south

Resurrection ferns, which shrivel up and look dead in dry weather, but burst forth in bright greenery after a rain shower; and shoestring ferns, which look like a lush sprig of grass on the side of a tree

Tillandsia such as the Southern Needleleaf, ball moss and Spanish moss

Tree-dwelling insects like the “tree hoppers,” sap-sucking insects that seldom cause damage to the host tree. Camouflaged among buds, leaflets, bark and twigs, about 20 species live in the park.

And, from the top of the adjacent 74-foot observation tower, Myakka’s beautiful river, wetlands, treetops, prairie hammock and a closer look at the park’s many soaring birds.

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