Sea Kayak Everglades

I am doing an early January sea kayak trip from Everglades City to Flamingo…want to do some of the outside route but also cut inland to do some of the inside route…maybe 8-10 days.

I have tripped there before…out and back trips from Everglades City…haven’t been south of Pavillion Key…any ideas of routes…where to cut inland and back out again…the BEST campsites???

We want to avoid the chickees as there may be 4 of us…would love to see wildlife…do some mangrove tunnels or narrow creeks…what is THE NIGHTMARE really like???


Book with campsite info
A Paddlers Guide to Everglades National Park by Johnny Malloy and a tide chart will help alot.

The book has all the campsite info:type of campsite (to help avoid chickees) and size and usage. January is popular especially on weekends.

You need to plan around the tides if going in and out of the Gulf up and down the rivers. Even though the tidal range is modest the currents are significant. To compound confusion the winds can alter the tides and make a timetable a best guess.

There are route section descriptions too that give you wind and tide influence.

Everglades paddling can be tougher than Lake Superior. I got stuck on Mormon Key for four days with high winds. The seas were ferocious as the Gulf isnt too deep there. Fortunately Mormon Key was a very nice area. I was cold there! The temperatures at night were just above freezing. (it turned out that there was a nasty stalled storm with a cold front)Dont forget your emergency fleece.

why would you avoid the chickees?
As you get down to whitewater bay, there are some really nice ones.

Like you, my wife & I have done numerous multi-day trips out of E-City. We’ve avoided Flamingo & the thru trip for a # of reasons, mostly the shuttle issue. Agree that J. Malloy’s book is the bible for the area & very well worth getting.

We’ve done The Nightmare from Broad R. to buoy #17 @ Broad Creek where we exited back to Gulf. (Avoid dead low tide) It was interesting but we found we prefer island-hopping along the coast. Have also paddled the Hurdles Creek, Huston, Chatham, & Lostman’s river rtes

Here’s my take on campsites we’ve used S of Pavillion (on a 1-5{best} scale like Malloy uses): Mormon=4 (small) New Turkey=4 Turkey=3 Hog=4 Highland=5 Broad R=2 Graveyard Creek=3 Northwest Cape=6

Our only use of chickee was very disappointing- bad timing in sharing 1/2 of a dbl chickee on Valentine’s Evening. Avoid the dbls if privacy’s a concern

avoiding chickees.
If I was in a solo sea kayak I would be still sitting at the bottom of Sunday Bay trying to get up. Or I would have jumped out of the kayak to climb the frame

That one at least didnt have a ladder. Thank god I had a canoe that I could stand in.

Anyone hammocked ala Hennessy Hammock in a Chickee? Does the hammock stay put?

Forgive my ignorance…
But what is a chickee?

Chickees are decked, elevated wooden platforms, approx 12x14 covered by a sloping metal roof w/ open sides supported only by 4-6 corner posts. They are located where there’s no dry land to camp upon & come w/ a short gangway that connects to a chemical toilet. They are most often arranged in adjacent pairs w/ a shared toilet. Each can accommodate 6 campers according to NPS but you better be close friends

Appreciate the info!

Johnny Molloys book is best guide
for the area. I agree on loop trips being a better choice and you can see both coastal and backcountry sites without a shuttle transport. These are tide dependant and can be reversed if tides are better the other way.

Favorite loops:

For beginners or someone without much time is the Chatam River loop. Start up the Turner River through back bays and stay day one on Lopez, day two watsons, day three pavillion and return on day four or head west and paddle to Picnic Key then return.

Lostman’s River loop: day one Mormon Key, day two, Hog Key day three, Lostman’s 5 day four Watsons or Darwins if you want to explore Gopher Creek. Day 5 return or head to Lopez via the backbays.

Chickees: from a kayak we call getting on a chickee the chickee gymnastics. I like staying on them but rather do it when using the canoe.

Shuttle services to get dropped off anywhere in the backcountry for those with limited vacation time:

I have used my Hennessy on the chickees as the posts are great to tie to. We’ve even suspended one over a couple of tents that were on the platform for extra room.

The only problem I have had with the hammocks vs. tents is if the bug situation is bad (in the 'glades you can count on it), at least there is more room in a tent to change clothes and even eat. I’ve had a no see um fest at dawn one night on Tiger Key and tried to get into the hammock as quickly as possible. Inadvertantly brought in a few too many before the velcro closed behind me. Getting rid of no see ums while laying down in the hammock is not fun :frowning: