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Rick's Turner River Paddle

This is one of the must do kayak routes in the north section of the Everglades National Park. Turner River is characterized by stunning mangrove tunnels, small lakes, flora and fauna beyond belief. It is almost as if you were taking a step back in time to a moment when nature remained undisturbed by human intrusion.

When you leave the Turner River launch, you will paddle about a block before you turn right and go under and a low bridge and say goodbye to civilization as you know it. You will paddle past lush vegetation before entering the first of three mangrove tunnels. There will likely be alligators floating around on this part of the route. If you don't bother them, they will return the favor and allow you undisturbed passage.

Look up into the mangroves for giant bromeliads and even some Ghost Orchids. Birds are everywhere too.  The first tunnel is about 2/10the of a mile long and the easiest to navigate. As you exit the tunnel look to the left for remnants of the old Turner Canal. This is one of the remaining vestiges of an attempt to drain the swamp. To the right the second tunnel. This are is known as four way junction. You'll see why when you see old airboat trails crossing the river. The second mangrove tunnel is slightly longer than the first and tighter too. Make sure you have a paddle that breaks down, or buy a cheap canoe paddle at your local retailer.

Don't get anything too long, the passage will be tight. Often, during high water levels, people will pull themselves through the tunnel. If you do this, please be cautious of the potential damage you may cause. After the second tunnel you enter the sawgrass praire. Here, the banks of the river are embraced by tall green sawgrass and open skies. The water in this area is primarily freshwater that turns brackish with increasing concentrations of saltwater as you get closer to Chokoloskee. This is where we will stop for a lunch break amongst the tall grass.

Approach quietly and Rick may take you to the gator spot. Large gators frequent the muddy flats to the west of the lunch stop. No need to fear, we do not plan on eating with the gators.  There is a third and the most challenging tunnel to cross. This is my favorite part of the paddle by far. Look up and around or you may miss the microcosm that makes this place special. Bladderwort marks the way to the third tunnel. Hungry little vegetation with pretty yellow flowers; they feed on mosquito larvae.

The fish and plants change as the salinity in the water increases, eventually flowing into Chokoloskee and its oyster beds. The waterway opens as you reach the flowing river. High tide is at 12:51 p.m. so we should be able to float down this section without much resistance. We will paddle past several small lakes as the river steadily widens. As we approach Chokoloskee we'll encounter a noticeable opening on the route. Here paddlers have an option of turning right onto Left Hand Turner River (really, right to left hand) and Halfway Creek (near the end of the paddle) , for a longer paddle back to the ranger station. You can also turn left onto Hurddles Creek. The route to Chokoloskee is straight ahead though. Stay right as there numerous oyster beds and shallow water in the area. You'll see the marina across the bay. It can be very low at low tide. Keep an eye out for moving water and follow it across. This is also the best place to see dolphins. Look for them feeding in the deeper water of the river's mouth and in the bay.

TRIP RATING: This is an SK2/3 paddle. Total distance is about 10 miles miles.

THE HARD PART: Logistics people. YOU MUST BE THERE BY 8:30 AM The put-in is barely more than a drop-off zone with just a few parking spots. Vehicles will need to be placed in Chokoloskee for the drive back.  We will meet at the Turner River Canoe Launch on Tamiami Trail. When you see H.P. Williams Park, slow down drastically. The Turner River Canoe Launch is less than a 1/10 of a mile away on the right. If you miss it, travel forth a little and make a u-turn back. Please watch for traffic. It can be heavy. We will drop off the boats at the put-in. Drive to Chokoloskee Island, park and carpool back in as few vehicles as possible. Remember that the folks driving back will need a ride for their boat as well as themselves. Turn-around time is usually about an hour to position the cars.

PARKING: Parking is $10 per vehicle at the Chokoloskee Island Marina.

RENTALS: Maybe, e-mail Esther if you need a boat.  [masked]

DIRECTIONS: Go to http://maps.google.com, put[masked],[masked] in the search window, and click "HYBRID" in the upper right of the map to get a good overview of where you're going.

DIRECTIONS: BROWARD/PALM BEACH: Odometer set point: Alligator Alley Toll Booth 75 North (Alligator Alley) to US-29 South (54.5 miles) US-29 South to US-41 (Tamiami Trail) East (17.2 miles) US-41 (Tamiami Trail) East to the put-in point (6.1 miles on left) If you overshoot the put-in make a left and u-turn at CR-839 (Turner River Road) about 0.2 miles further on. DADE: Approx. 1 hour west of Krome on US-41 Odometer set point: Tamiami Trail & Krome Avenue US-41 (Tamiami Trail) West to the put-in point (51.9 miles on right) If you overshoot the put-in make a left and u-turn at the small loop road about 0.1 mile further on.H.P. Williams Wayside (US 41 just past CR839 )

WHAT TO BRING: Bring the usual, your boat, your paddle, your PFD (which you will wear at all times), your waterproof camera, sbacks, lunch, water, non-alcoholic beverage, and more water, safety equipment you see fit, sunscreen, bug repellent and whatever else you feel you need to ensure a safe day on the water. Don't forget your nautical charts and compass, or GPS. Rain gear is always a good idea.

DISCLAIMER: As with all of our paddles, we are a group of kayaking enthusiasts out for a good time. We helps each other, learn from each other and enjoy the privilege of being. By participating in any of our paddles you assume all risks and responsibilities for your personal health and safety and for your equipment. It is important for everyone that each participant be prepared for the trip. Please use your discretion and best judgment when joining a trip. Be sure you are up to the paddle -- physically, mentally and that your equipment is appropriate for the intended trip. The cliche: Always expect the worst and hope for the best. That means, be ready for conditions to change on a moment;s notice. We are out in nature, after all.

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  • Jose

    Thanks Rick for setting up this Meetup and I'm looking forward to the one you're planning. To all the paddlers thanks for the good company.

    August 13, 2013

  • Dirk

    Thanks Rick. Great river, good weather, fun paddlers!

    August 11, 2013

  • Luis y M.

    Well once again, thank you Rick for your time and expertise in making this adventure possible. To all, best group ever thank you too, me and my son had and incredible time and fun.

    August 11, 2013

  • Uffe Steen K.

    Thank you for being a great guide Rick! Can't believe we had that good weather. Great group of people.

    August 11, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Great paddle with a wonderful group of folks. The weather was incredible for August and all participants did a great job (with no mosquitos). The ice cream shop was closed (bummer) so we're sorry if some people were not able to get together after the paddle. We made it to City Sea Food for a cool one after. See you next time.

    1 · August 11, 2013

  • Susan

    Fantastic, had a wonderful day. Great weather, an amazingly beautiful river, good company, had a lot of fun. Thank You Rick....

    August 10, 2013

  • Sharon

    Always a great trip. So good to see some old faces and some new. Thanks Rick and everyone that attended for making our day a good one

    August 10, 2013

  • Jill

    Fabulous! What a treasure Tuner River is. Thank you Rick for your expertise and good company!

    August 10, 2013

  • Beni G.

    Awesome! Had a great time with a wonderful group of people. Rick thanks again.

    August 10, 2013

  • Rolando P.

    A nice paddle I finally was able to do the whole trip to chokoloskee and to see the Indian mounds at the mouth of the river.

    August 10, 2013

  • Rick P.

    We will be getting out of the boats for lunch at the picnic place!

    1 · August 9, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Renato, I added you in - best to come on I-75 to S.R. 29. The directions are in the body of the trip information. 8:30 sharp. See ya.

    August 9, 2013

    • Renato

      Thank you Rick, I'll see you tomorrow.

      August 9, 2013

  • Norm

    Are any of the paddlers from Broward / Palm Beach counties interested in sharing the ride out?

    August 9, 2013

  • Luis y M.

    Rick, you say we stop for lunch somewhere along the tall grass !! Does it mean that we have lunch on the kayak itself or do we get off the kayak somewhere around there ??

    1 · August 9, 2013

  • Uffe Steen K.

    We will be in a tandem kayak.

    August 9, 2013

  • Uffe Steen K.

    I have a single hard kayak like this one: http://www.emotionkayaks.com/product/detail/249

    However, my girlfriend would like to go and she can't do 10 miles on her own. Does anyone with a tandem kayak want to go alone? Then we can swap kayaks for this trip.

    Uffe

    August 9, 2013

  • myra

    Hi! I will not be able to attend tomorrow, but I look forward to joining on another paddle in the future. Enjoy! Myra

    August 9, 2013

  • Mary Ann M.

    Have plans. Would like to do this in the winter. Keep up the good work.

    August 8, 2013

  • Cynthia E.

    Sorry to say I can't obtain a kayak fast enough to make this meet. Next time for sure. Have a great time guys! Cynthia

    August 8, 2013

    • Luis y M.

      Cynthia, did you try Esther ?

      August 8, 2013

  • Rick P.

    To All Paddlers: This is a recap of information presented relating to this trip - 1. Please read all notes presented to date. 2. Take into account construction traffic delays along U.S. 41 outgoing. 3. Consider the skill level of this trip (SK 2/3) - we will be paddling at the latter part into a flooding tide and it is a full 10 miles. 4. We'll divide everyone into 2 groups, faster and slower paddlers. Please consider your level and declare accordingly at the put-in. 5. Be prepared for possible showers. 6. Bring $10. to pay at parking. 7. Only one person per vehicle needs to go to drop off the vehicles at Chokoloskee. 8. Bring plenty of liquid to hydrate with. 9. Have a good time!

    August 8, 2013

  • Susan

    Yeah, I'm excited. Now they'll be two of us, in two different kayaks. My daughter is 27, not a baby. She a strong kayaker. So looking forward to this trip.

    1 · August 7, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Susan, as to the mosquitos, they are typically out at dawn and dusk in the Everglades unless you are in Flamingo then they are all the day. Just be prepared and they will know!

    August 7, 2013

  • Susan

    I want to go, me and my daughter, we have our own kayaks. Two on the waiting list.

    August 7, 2013

  • Susan

    Are the mosquito gonna be really bad.?

    August 7, 2013

  • Beatriz C.

    Maru and Al Gomez are my sister and brother in law that will be kayaking with us.

    August 7, 2013

  • Esther

    Beatriz, are you taking a hard boat or your inflatable? Take the hard boat. This is not inflatable friendly

    August 7, 2013

    • Beatriz C.

      Thanks for letting me know, I'll bring a hard one, see you there.

      August 7, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Beatriz, I did spell your name wrong so I apologize for that.

    August 7, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Beatrice, please add your sister and brother in law to your response as to attending which would bring the total to date to 13 participants as I see it? That would leave one opening as opposed to three.

    August 7, 2013

  • Rolando P.

    For our friends using the Tamiami trail to get to this place please take into account that some sections are being repaired and you will be stop several times for a few minutes. So it is better to add an extra 20 minutes to your driving time just in case.

    August 7, 2013

  • Rick P.

    The question about the 10' boat - my opinion is that it would be great in the tunnels but 60% of the paddling is in the open water and depending on the tidal direction at the time, and the wind, these small boats can suffer considerably in speed and therefore more work. I will be in a 17'0 boat and I have seen even larger ones get thru the tunnels easy. The purpose of this trip is to introduce new paddlers to this beautiful environment and have a good time. I do it twice a year. I, however, do not tow paddlers that get bushed. Consider the distance, the heat and your capabilities. Be there by 8:30 A.M.We then unload the boats and gear have to take all of the cars for a 12 - 14 mile drive to the Island and drop them, coming back in one large vehicle to the launch.

    Any additional questions, don't hesitate to ask. P.S. You will have to break down your paddle to halves at several areas so keep that in mind. Stopping at the mounds is ok.

    1 · August 7, 2013

    • Esther

      Chokoloskee, low tide is at.12:22PM. That means paddling into the really flooding tide. Not terrible but it also means the long way around the bay. It is very shallow in the middle at low.

      August 7, 2013

  • Beatriz C.

    My sister and brother in law are coming along this should ne fun.

    August 7, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Susan, we would probably get to the end of the actual paddling trip at around 2:00 - 2:30. That puts you at Choccoloskee Island and if your car is their you can figure one solid hour to Miami or perhaps one to two hours to Broward. The time will depend on how fast and efficient all of the paddlers negotiate the river. We always try to keep the group together and in so doing, we are as a group as fast as the slowest person. You can get lost out there. So it is important to stay together.

    August 7, 2013

  • Susan

    What time will we be back by.????

    August 7, 2013

  • Rolando P.

    If any of you want to check out some pictures of my last Saturday trip to this spot you hit this link to the album http://www.meetup.com/Outdoor-Adventures-Klub-OAK/photos/16492732/

    August 6, 2013

  • Esther

    If i can make it I may take one of my paddleboards

    1 · August 6, 2013

  • Esther

    This is a wonderful paddle. There are some open segments, most after the third tunnel and across Chokoloskee Bay. A shirt boat just means an easier time in the tunnels and a bit more effort in open areas. This paddle is well worth the effort.

    August 6, 2013

  • Emmy

    Would I be ok on a 10' dagger? I don't want to show up and see raised eyebrows and shaking heads telling me I'm crazy...

    August 6, 2013

    • Rolando P.

      I think you are ok. This is not an open water trip so you don't need a sea kayak for this. If you are comfortable with the 10 miles distance there should be no problem.

      August 6, 2013

  • Beni G.

    Rolando, Thank You, Beni

    August 6, 2013

  • Rolando P.

    I went kayaking to this spot last Saturday and it was really nice. I did the first and second tunnel and turned back after reaching the prairie. I wanted to do the whole ride for some time. Rick I will like to ask you if it will be possible to stop close to the mouth of the river I know there are some Indian mounds over there that I will like to check out.

    August 6, 2013

  • Beni G.

    Rick,
    This sounds like a great adventure.
    Do you think my 15' Ocean Kayak Prowler SOT appropriate?
    I do have a paddle that breaks in two.
    Do we meet at 7:30 am and unload and go drop off cars/truck and launch at 8:30 am?
    I live in Miami at the Hammocks. I have a truck with a bed extender if someone would like a ride.
    Thank you for putting this together.
    Beni Garcia

    1 · August 6, 2013

    • Rolando P.

      Beni I think you are ok. I went last Saturday and did the tunnels in my current design gulfstream that is almost 19' so you should be ok

      August 6, 2013

    • Beni G.

      Rolando,

      August 6, 2013

  • Kathy

    I would love to but i have a previous engagement.

    August 6, 2013

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