The weather is cooling off, the bugs are slowing down and we are heading back to the glades. This time the destination is near and dear to yours truly. I had the great privilege, as did others from our group, to help reopen the trail. It took several years, a lot of bug spray and more brute strength and perseverance than I can relay. I hope you will enjoy this trail as much as I do.
Bear Lake Canal - About 3 miles round-trip. We may explore Mud Lake adding an additional mile to the total trip distance or explore Bear Lake. You will travel along a narrow, tree-covered historic canal. An abundance of tropical plants and tree species is visible along the trail. Orchids, bromeliads and Hercules Vine join the buttonwood arches that form a canopy above the canal. Tarpon are frequently found in the canal as are other fish and many varieties of birds, butterflies and flora. Manchineel grows on the banks
of the canal. You can identify the trees by their canopy and the stitch scarred markings on its branches. Don't touch them, they are beautiful, but deadly. Touch them and you'll sport a nasty burn.
Don't leave your repellant at home yet, you will still need it. If you have a bug suit, bring it. No flips flops please. I may take everyone on a hike off the canal. It's worth the effort, trust me.
DIRECTIONS: Bear Lake near Flamingo Everglades National Park Directions to the park: From the Miami area and points north, take the Florida Turnpike south until it ends, merging with U.S. 1 at Florida City. Turn right at the first traffic light onto Palm Drive (SW 344th St.).
Stay on the road and follow the signs to the park.
Once in the park, Flamingo is another 36 miles in.
The Bear Lake Canoe Trail: Access is via a dirt road running alongside the Buttonwood Canal. It may seem as if you're lost, if so, you are on the right road. There is parking available by the near boat launch for about 20 cars.
PARK FEES: Entrance fee to the park is $10 per car, or $25 for the one-year pass. Get the pass, we'll be back here often. The pass also includes admission at the Shark Valley entrance. There is a $3 per boat launch fee.
RENTALS: $35 for singles, $45 for tandems. Call The Paddle House for reservations at[masked]
WHAT TO BRING: Your boat, your paddle, extra line to tie up the boats, your PFD (which you will wear at all times), water, water, food, 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 in case you decide to wander off.
CLUB NOTE: 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 outing. Know and respect your limits. Be safe and you will certainly enjoy another fantastic paddle.