Added by Jess Curren
Paddle through beautiful mangrove forests and open glades while searching for wildlife.
If you only do one thing in the Everglades, I highly recommend canoeing through the mangrove and lake meadows of 9 mile pond. I had thought the Everglades would have been swampy, but they are in fact "glades" or open meadows in a forest.
We decided to rent canoes from the concessionaire near the Flamingo Visitor Center. They usually have canoes both at the visitor center and 9 mile pond, but a large group rented all the canoes right before we got there so we paid an extra $45 to have two canoes transported up to the pond. Frustrating, but worth it.
We arrived at the pond with life jackets and paddles, and retrieved the canoes from the concessionaire. In just a minute we were in the water, paddling across a small lake to the start of the trail. Paddling across the pond can be the most difficult part of the trail as sometimes high winds blow across it.
At the other side of the pond, we found white marker #1 and plunged into the mangroves. All long the canoe trail are poles stuck in the ground. Each marker bears a number which could help us choose the right direction as we paddled. Without those markers, it would have been impossible to find our way through (or out!) of those mangrove forests and we would have been completely lost!
Padding through mangroves is beautiful, but the paddling trail was often narrow and often turned quite sharply. Luckily, the roots of the mangrove trees grow out from the trunk of the tree above the waterline, and grow outward before plunging down into the water. The result of this root growth pattern is a natural ‘bumper’ of sorts that made paddling a little easier. When we missed a turn or edged too close to the trees, the natural edge created by the roots prevented us from paddling too far under the trees.
The mangrove forest eventually broke apart, and we found ourselves in more open sections of the glade. At the midpoint of our paddle, we came into a large glade that was a wonderful cross between a meadow and a lake. The area was covered with water shallow enough to allow grasses to grow. From near the waterline, it looked as though the meadow was grassy and solid enough to walk across it. Instead, we got to paddle through it.
The meadow contained a shortcut that allowed us to cut our paddle in half. We took the shortcut and had a snack, and then headed continued along the trail back to the truck.
- Bug spray
- Rain jacket
- PFD (if you bring your own boats)
- Extra paddle
- Waterproof bag for gear
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