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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 wate

r 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 8.5 nautical miles.

RENTALS: No rentals as of now. Please check back.

THE HARD PART: Logistics people. YOU MUST BE THERE BY /:00 AM The put-in is barely more than a drop-off zone with just a few parking spots. 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.

DIRECTIONS: Go to http://maps.google.co..., 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. https://secure.meetupstatic.com/photos/event/d/4/0/3/event_12234275.jpeg

DISCLAIMER: As with all of our paddles, we are not guides and we are not instructors. We are a group of kayaking enthusiasts out for a good time. We helps each other, learn from each 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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  • MiG (The J.

    Check out the video guys the Turner River Kayak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3jonsqCu9c

    January 15, 2013

    • Donna J.

      Really nice. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

      January 15, 2013

    • Steve O.

      That was a good video.

      January 23, 2013

  • John D.

    Really nice job on the video, Mig.

    January 16, 2013

  • Herman W.

    This is the trail that my phone recorded. It is almost as interesting as taking the original trip.

    http://goo.gl/maps/CvI8n

    Great trip. Good time, good weather, and good company. Appreciated Rick taking the time to share the experience. Thanks

    1 · January 14, 2013

    • Donna J.

      True, check out the satellite view. How many miles total did you record on this trip?

      January 15, 2013

    • MiG (The J.

      10.3 Miles or 16Km

      January 15, 2013

  • MiG (The J.

    M.K.C members, here is the video of Rick's Turner River Kayak this past weekend. Join us next time!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3jonsqCu9c

    See more Jeep outdoor & off-road events at "Jeep Only Club" here on Meetup. http://www.meetup.com/JeepsOnlyClub/

    1 · January 15, 2013

    • Steve O.

      No, I'm still here in north Florida but Canada bound tomorrow sigh. I'd still be nervous to do it again but a lot less so... But that last one was a tad scary when it surfaced a few feet away!

      January 14, 2013

    • Donna J.

      At least you'll have an awesome adventure to tell the folks about back home - and photos to back up your story. You know you can forward the link where the photos are located to others and they will be able to view them, right?

      January 15, 2013

  • Steve O.

    So that was a lot of fun! My brother thought I was crazy when I sent him some of the photos. Glad to meet you all. Now I get to go snowshoeing and skiing when I get home. Sigh.

    January 14, 2013

  • Donna J.

    Great photos! Sorry I couldn't make it this time as I was helping out at the Miami Winter Nationals on Key Biscayne. I hope this paddle will be scheduled again in the future as I'd love to experience it for myself.

    January 14, 2013

    • Doreen K.

      We all missed you Donna. I'll go on this paddle again for sure. You will love it!

      January 14, 2013

  • Daniel

    Thanks for leading a great trip, Rick. I really enjoyed the group, and the trail that you shared with us. This was a fantastic first meetup experience.

    January 14, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Beautiful day, people and weather.

    2 · January 14, 2013

  • Roger S.

    Great trip with Rick as usual

    January 13, 2013

  • Doreen K.

    This was absolutely one of the most adventurous paddle trips I've ever been on. What a great group of people to paddle with too!! Lots of laughs, great conversation and lots of.......GATORS!! Thank you Rick!! Your the best!

    3 · January 13, 2013

    • Sharon

      So happy you enjoyed it.

      January 13, 2013

  • John D.

    Excellent trip. Rick did a great job leading us through some very beautiful scenery, pointing out the flora and fauna, and to top it off, directed us to a really nice end-of-trip reward. A neat ice cream store!.
    Again, there were a great group of paddlers which made it extra enjoyable. John attempted to bring back a portion of the river, but Sharon made him pump it back out.

    January 13, 2013

    • Doreen K.

      Oh my gosh...you are sooo funny John!

      January 13, 2013

  • MiG (The J.

    RICK you are the BEST!!! THank you MKC and Rick Poston

    January 13, 2013

  • Sharon

    Beautiful day on the river. Real nice group of people. Thanks Capt. Rick and crew

    January 13, 2013

  • Rick P.

    We're gonna miss you Norm! Hell, I wanted to see you sail your Hobie through the tunnels!

    January 12, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Very!

    1 · January 12, 2013

  • Steve O.

    How safe is the parking spot at the other end?

    January 12, 2013

  • Roger S.

    For anyone new to the trip we pass through long, tight mangrove tunnels. If you have a 2-piece paddle that can be taken apart on the water to use as a short single blade paddle it helps. Bring a spare paddle in case one breaks. Also, the end of the river is a great fishing spot if anyone else wants to join me to catch a redfish.

    January 12, 2013

  • Steve O.

    Dang. ok, I can make it work.

    January 11, 2013

  • Rick P.

    It is this upcoming Sunday. Rick

    1 · January 11, 2013

  • Steve O.

    Sunday? I just saw this was Sunday? I always thought it was Saturday? Did I misread it or did it change? Crap.

    January 11, 2013

  • Katzpawz

    I think I'll pass on this, this time. haven't paddled in a year and a half. Need to adjust gradually.

    January 11, 2013

  • Rick P.

    John, it is a long story but the original idea was to get the trip posted as soon as possible and then adjust the time. It is 8:00 A.M. at the Turner River put in. We then will be able to actually be in the water by 9:30 A.M. to start after dropping the vehicles off at Chokoloskee Island and then shuttling back. It is early but necessary. Anyone with any questions is welcome to call my cell anytime at (305) 310-2969. Rick

    January 10, 2013

  • John D.

    This trip was originally posted as an 11 am start. Is the new time correct?

    January 10, 2013

  • Steve O.

    When we come to paddle in Fla we stick to the salt water, specifically where there are no gators. I'm currently in the Keys. Paddled on the gulf side yesterday in the mangroves. It is time to try in gator infested water i reckon!

    January 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wish I could be there. Last year's trip was so good. I'm biking ErnestCoe to Flamingo & back that day.

    @Steve Ott. Own your fear! It's OK to be afraid. Just do it and you'll understand that your fear isn't based on anything rational. That will open up sooo many kayaking doors for you!

    1 · January 10, 2013

  • Steve O.

    Ok. I'm in. With trepidation! See you all at the launch at 8am Saturday.

    January 10, 2013

  • Rick P.

    It is really about understanding their behaviors and one's experience in knowing what to do and not to do when they are in the general area. When they are in their mating season for example in March /April/May the females become protective of their immediate environments. So, you avoid them. If that makes you feel good, just let me know and I will paddle over and physically intervene. There is as much chance of you seeing gators as their is not. More importantly, I think you should concern yourself with the 8 mile trek depending on your experience and boat. Rick

    January 10, 2013

  • Steve O.

    Hmmm. So you'd have no problem if I put you between me and the gators then? :)

    January 10, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Steve, I have been paddling around gators for more than 30 years and have not had a problem yet. They are more afraid of you than you them. They eat only fish for the most part and feed at night. You should expect to be gone most all of the day. The last time I did the trip with a group we were in the water at 9:30 A.M.and finished at 2:30 P.M. with as many breaks as needed and a lunch stop. This is a leisurely trip. You then have to add the trip back to wherever you come from. Rick

    January 9, 2013

  • Steve O.

    I have never done this route before but have read about it often. The idea of paddling where there are gators scares the beegeezus out of me (I'm a northerner). How safe is the trip and what time do you expect it to end? Thanks, Steve

    January 9, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Thanks for the note Roger, it does pose a delay of sorts since they stop one lane of traffic. Another reminder to those interested in going is that the water level is beginning to fall so this might be the last opportunity until May or June when the rains start up. Glad to see your going, Rick

    January 9, 2013

  • Roger S.

    There is a lot of construction on the 20 miles of the Tamiami Trail west of Chrome Ave. (Everglades restoration stuff) Add an extra 15 minutes to your expected travel time going there, probably more on the way back.

    January 9, 2013

  • Rick P.

    Jose, it is actually explained under "The Hard Part" above (logistics). It is important to be at the put in initially at 8:00 A.M. Rick

    January 9, 2013

  • Jose Luis G.

    Hi there. Did I understand the end point is far away from the start point where the cars are parked? How are we supposed get back where the cars?

    January 9, 2013

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