Everglades National Park - Bear Lake Canoe Trail Paddle and Hike

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.

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  • Esther

    Awesome time. We paddled the canal to Bear Lake. Headed into the Homestead Canal where the limbo and leap technique to get over logs were applied. Then we found an old landing from where we attempted to hike the Homestead Canal Trail. Then we crossed Bear lake to the narrow opening to the back country (gorgeous). There I saw a huge Croc and Frank saw a Flamingo (not together ;). Then back across the lake to the canal. Some of us hiked to the mound through the muck. Frank played us a native tune as we admired an ancient Gumbo Limbo tree. Everyone was just awesome and held up great. Dinner at Sonny's followed by a much needed car/boat wash. Great day all around. Thanks all for indulging my back country love. We will do this again soon.

    January 7, 2013

    • Katzpawz

      Do you happen to have the track saved with GPS? I had hoped to be able to go. But once saw it was full, made other plans. Still like to do it sometime.

      January 7, 2013

  • Phil M.

    Many thanks Esther, great trip.

    January 7, 2013

  • Katzpawz

    If this is closed, how come it just went from 22 to 24 ?

    1 · January 4, 2013

    • Donna J.

      Unfortunately, once the maximum number of attendees is reached and the RSVP closes, the program does not have a way to remove the "RSVP closed" notation when people drop out. However, it would appear that one can still RSVP once the number falls below the max. I would suggest that you e-mail Esther in the future and ask her to put you on a waiting list because people inevitably drop out and slots open up. It appears that of the 30 who originally signed up, only 11 ended up going on this trip.

      January 6, 2013

    • Katzpawz

      I ended up doing something else. But I was inclined to do that and perhaps forming a second group starting out 1-2 hours later. I didn't bother checking again, cuz I don't like a large group as it was. But only 11 would have been perfect.

      January 7, 2013

  • Katzpawz

    Oh, bummer. Closed already??? Wow, 22 attending... That's a lot!

    January 4, 2013

  • Mario

    Hi paddlers, my name is Mario and I am a new member of this MeetUp....quick question.....Does "RSVP closed" mean one can not attend?...Please explain RSVP-ing....thanks!

    January 4, 2013

  • Renato

    Coming from Fort Lauderdale (33308). If somebody is interested in carpooling, text or call me[masked]

    January 3, 2013

  • Jill

    Gonna sit this one out. See you all soon on another paddle. Have fun!

    January 3, 2013

  • John D.

    Hi, Yamil - It's a Personal Flotation Device. A life jacket.

    January 1, 2013

  • Yamil

    Hi, quick question: What is a PFD?

    January 1, 2013

  • Bill E.

    The Nov 17 Trail meet up group cleared the 2 mile road to the canoe launch. It was wet then, and a bit bumpy but passable. The canoe trail is an easy paddle at least to mile 1.2 just past the curve at the mound where we ended the work day. Beyond that you may encounter a few large branches or leaning trees across the canal, which will add to the adventure and fun. Most of the trees were leaning from the south and appear to have been pushed over by some strong summer winds. The land trail team membes saw about 100+ wadding birds west of the mound. We saw 3 everglades racer snakes, one diamond back rattler, plenty of wading birds, two hawks, and lots of fish. You should have a great trip.

    December 2, 2012

11 went

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