Florida Bay / Flamingo - Everglades Trip

10 of us did a nice 3 night / 4 day loop route from Chokoloskee Island this past January. We are now looking to start at Flamingo and do a 4 night / 5 day route, but want to get some beach sites in as well. We also want to get Hell’s Bay area in and we are concerned with some of our milage going over 15.

Anyone know the area and some recommended routes where we can get in some mangrove tunnels in the inland water way and still go to the outside and get in the beach side?

Also, what about West Lake, Nobel Hammel Canoe Trail, Lake Alligator Creek and coming out into the Gulf from these routes?

Canoes or kayaks?

– Last Updated: Apr-07-08 3:52 PM EST –

I ask because if you do the inside route and your mileage is limited to 15 miles/day, you will need to camp on a chickee. I wouldn't try it with a kayak although many others do and seem to do okay.

We did the inside route and outside route this last Feb - see http://paddleacrossflorida.home.att.net
The trip report has maps and photos to give you ideas from Flamingo.

From Flamingo, it is a 10-mile paddle to East Cape Sable, 5 more miles to Middle Cape and another 5 miles to Northwest Cape Sable - all nice beach campsites. I prefer Middle and Northwest Cape. Don't settle for Clubhouse Beach - too buggy - push to East Cape.

Can get very windy as we've seen the last few days.

I'm not familiar with Hells Bay and the mangrove tunnels there. I'm sure the bugs are coming out with all this warmer weather. At least the winds keep them down especially on the beach sites.

Watch out for the mud on the outside (Florida Bay) at Flamingo - do not try to take a short cut unless you know it is at max high tide. I know this and still have been stuck twice :(

Good luck!


– Last Updated: Apr-07-08 4:11 PM EST –

We will be in yaks and we'll be OK at the Chickees. Thanks for the link and email. I'll check your link out shortly and reply once I reviewed it. I think we are concentrating in on Flamingo, East Cape, NW Cape, Oyster Bay Chickee, Robert's River and then back out to get the full inside out experience. Of course, we'll have a backup plan to reverse it or have other options if all is booked. We did a nice 4 day / 3 night this January and the last day was a nice whopping 20 mph average wind against the tides and gust up to 30 - talk about a fun paddle or should I say hike/paddle over Oyster Shoals. After it was over, we were all ready to go again. We go in January to get the colder weather and less bugs.

My boyfriend and I sleep at the front door of the Ranger Station so we are first in line and usually get most of what we want for our trips that way.

We all love the Everglades. Great place to paddle!

Thanks for your reply.

I did see your site …

– Last Updated: Apr-07-08 5:38 PM EST –

I saw your site and some of the night runs - that was wacky. I loved your write up on not being able to find the gulf access one night.

Our last day on Rabbit Key in January put us in a cold front storm for the entire night. Tents were laying flat on top of us and the temp went from 70 degrees down to 30 degrees. We were in bathing suites and then thermals and warm-water gear.

When we woke up at 7am (which was the time we were suppose to head out) all the water had been blow out into the Gulf and we had to wait 5 hours for high-tide to start coming back. That was crazy!

We positioned our kayaks where most of the water would start coming back and then headed out for what should have been a 2 to 3 hour paddle day. It took us 7 1/2 hours to get back to Chokoloskee Island. I saw your picture heading back in and it looked like our same route back to Chokolokskee Island except we had 30mph gusts, paddling against the tide and oyster shoals blocking us from getting back to the mainland.

I'm sure everyone in their homes saw 10 people standing on an oyster shoal and saying those people are nuts!

I'd do it again. It was one of the best trips I've ever been on.

I hope Flamingo gives us another challenge and some great sites.

Funny thing on our first trip we only saw raccoons, rats, sharks and dolphins. No gators.

I'm an LSU fan - I'm fine with No Gators! hee hee hee

Your route sounds good
You’ll have fun - especially since you’ve already experienced some of the biggest problems in that area - strong winds and tides. Just remember what I said about the mud at Flamingo - don’t chance it even though it looks okay - take the channel out and around Bradley Key. It is tempting to try to go along the shoreline and I did once and made it but two other times I was in mud hell - not only because I had to pull/push my loaded kayak through it but also because I was the leader and everyone blamed me…

I can’t imagine using a Chickee with my fully loaded kayak unless I had my sit on top but like I said, other kayakers seem to like it and do fine.

Good luck and post photos!


Cape Sable is great
It’s been a while, but it completely fulfilled my desire for a deserted beach. Good fishing too.

Once thing I noticed: depending on which way the wind was blowing, you could end up in a black swarm of mosquitoes or someplace nearly free of them.

East cape
We went last year and were planning on doing 6 miles to clubhouse beach then 4 miles to East cape then 7 miles back to east clubhouse then to flamingo. We past East clubhouse and clubhouse beach and went straight to East Cape. The first two were small muddy campsites. East cape is incredible! We spent all 3 nights there.

how about breaking up the trip?

– Last Updated: Apr-27-08 11:32 AM EST –

With that many days you can do three nights to the Cape from Flamingo and explore Lake Ingraham on second day and comeback to Flamingo. Restock on water and supplies and park one car at Coot Bay Pond and the other on the Hells Bay trail. Do two night trip into Hells Bay stay at Hells Bay Chickee and go out into Whitewater Bay and head for South Joe River then back via Coot Bay to Coot Bay pond. It'll give you a nice taste of the backcountry in that area of the park.You'll get a varied trip and see two totally different eco systems. BTW Dave, most people don't paddle as fast as you ;-) I can't get onto a chickee from my kayak either and use my solo canoe in the backcountry. See you on the water your friend Vivian.

Hi Viv!
I thought I recognized your handle - mine is similar on both forums. Vivian gives good advice - she is a very knowledgeable paddler in the Everglades National Park and rumor has it that she also knows how to fish :).

gators in ENP
Although you can certainly find a gator in salt or brackish water, they much prefer fresh water. Most of the Wilderness Waterway is pretty high slainity for them.

From Flamimgo, if you paddle east from the lift that seperates the canal from the bay, you will see your fill of gators.