We chose this short trip (two and a half hours) because the winds were howling and this route is almost totally sheltered. It is an enchanting look at the Red Mangrove maze that is the southern portion of the Everglades.
I have some experience with canoes and a little with kayaks but this was my girlfriend Katy's first kayak trip. Though the dry season is beginning in south Florida, we did encounter mosquitoes and yellow flies, particularly when we unloaded the boats. We put on repellent and hurried to get the boats in the water off the small dock at the put-in point.
The route is marked by numbered PVC poles and we were rarely out of sight of the next marker. The few times we couldnt immediately spot the next marker just gave us a delicious apprehensiveness. The marked waterway generally makes a circuitous path to Noble Hammock, named for a man who made moonshine during the depression years. He chose the spot because it would have been almost impossible to find or approach without local knowledge and experience.
About halfway, we had to reapply repellent as the mosquitoes were fairly aggressive in the shaded mangrove tunnels. January and February would most likely be almost bug free but any other time of the year, the paddler must be prepared.
The paddling is mostly in fairly narrow open water but with many mangrove tunnels and a few places that are quite a tight fit. Twelve-foot boats might be the upper limit in length.
There are only two places along the way where you might want to get out of the boat and stretch. One is a tiny hammock with three Paurotis Palms on it and the other is Noble Hammock, which is clearly marked with a sign.
This paddle is easy enough for a beginner and so beautiful it is worth doing by anyone. The water level was about a foot and a half but varies with the season, so check with the rangers, particularly during the dry season (November through April).
We took turns in the lead and stopped many times to take photos. We love the glades and this was an exercise in serenity and a recharging of our spiritual batteries. Im doing the same trip in a few days with my son.
Camping and a charming older motel/lodge in Flamingo (reservations necessary most of the year) or your choice of motels in nearby Homestead.
Entrance fee to the park, (the best buy is a $20 annual pass) and $3 per boat.
The put-in point is 11 miles north of Flamingo on the main park road in Everglades National Park.