Waiting out a hurricane warning and some rain and high winds, we decided to do a half-day paddle inland down Halfway Creek to Turner River and then into Everglades City. Our other day trip option was all the way down Turner River but that would have been a full day and required lifting are already loaded kayaks over downed trees. The beginning of this trip was beautiful. It is down stream so not paddling was required. We put in at a boat launch at the top of Halfway Creek (plenty of parking). We didn't see any of the manatee which are occasionally seen in this area, but we did get to see some cool birds. The river starts out calmly traversing through the mangroves. The trail is marked by PVC pipes, very easy to follow. Keep following the river straight down until it dumps you into a bay. A local told us that some times alligators hang out here, but again we did not see any. Look straight ahead and keep following the PVC pipes. The second half of the turner river narrows and goes through the mangroves. Here began the challenge. We had to break down our paddles since the cover was so low. At times I had to place my head on the deck to clear under low branches. Put on your bug spray (long sleeves are a must), head net would have been a nice thing to have, and if you are afraid of spiders .... get over it, fast ... because there is no getting away from them here. I broke spider webs with every paddle stroke in between swatting misquotes. Having a 14.5-foot boat here was a little bit of a challenge; I definitely would not have tried it with anything larger than 15.5 feet or so. It was an experience, I'm glad I did it, it was pretty cool to see, but the spiders creped us out and I received hundreds of mosquito bites since I was not expecting that and did not have my jacket accessible. Thank God for my spray skirt which kept out the spiders and mosquitoes. Definitely worth doing for the experience, and if I would have been prepared with a head net and long sleeves it actually probably would not have been that bad. As you can imagine we rushed out of there as fast as we could and when we met up with the Turner River the river widened and turned brackish. The bugs went away. Now here is a great section to see alligator sunbathing at low tide on the riverbanks. The whole trip took us about 3.5 hrs leisurely paddling.
Several campgrounds in area (primitive and non primitive). Several hotels in Everglades City. We stayed at the Ivy House Bed & Breakfast where some people in our group rented kayaks from. Rates were reasonable low off-season, beautiful hotel.
Rt. 41, into Big Cypress National Preserve, to Seagrape drive. Floow down to boat launch
I used a book called "Paddler's Guide to Everglades National Park" to learn about the route and boat launch.
The topo maps and water charts I had of the area did not help much in this area. But the trail is not hard to follow.
You can go to http://www.nps.gov/bicy/ppmaps/bicymap1%2Epdf and download a National Park Service map in *.pdf format (Acrobat Reader required).