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Updated: 12/22/2014

Turner River... Paddling in Big Cypress

Located in the Big Cypress National Preserve (adjacent to Everglades National Park), the Turner River meanders through mangrove habitat, sawgrass prairie, and freshwater marsh. The mangrove tunnels can be narrow and sometimes easier to push through than paddle, smaller kayaks and canoes are the best choice here. Watch for the markers that delineate the main river from side streams.  (Detailed map, photos and more description below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 8.5 miles one way
Location: Collier County, Big Cypress National Preserve (Ochopee)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) at the Turner River Bridge 1/2 mile west of the H.P. Williams Roadside Park; Chokoloskee Island (CR 29 south of Everglades City) (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Everglades City, US 41 Ochopee, Chokoloskee (links, above right). Ranger tours also available.
Nearby points of interest: The Everglades, Miccosukee Indian Reservation, Ochopee Post Office, Big Cypress Gallery

The Turner River Paddle Trail runs 8.5 miles one-way from the put-in on US 41 to Chocoloskee Island. The tides will influence timing, paddle downstream when the tide is going out to take advantage of the tidal flow; paddle upstream when the tide rises.

November to March is the best time of year for paddling due to the heat and bugs; tides, wind and the Florida sun make this a challenging paddle. Much wildlife, many birds, and scenery to enjoy; alligators are plentiful.

From the Turner River launch on US41, take a short ride west on US41 and watch on the left for the Ochopee Post Office, the smallest post office in the United States. Also worthwhile is a stop at the Big Cypress Gallery in Ochopee to view the photography of Clyde Butcher, a foremost chronicler of The Everglades and the American wilderness. Big Cypress National Preserve is one of the few remaining habitat of the Florida panther; activities in addition to paddling include hiking, camping, biking, and fishing.

Paddling at Turner River
(hover over photo for larger view)
US41 launch downstream to mangrove
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US41 launch, a short drag/carry from parking area to launch Channel from launch to US41 bridge US41 bridge At the bridge is an option to go upstream, can be impassable at low water
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Downstream from bridge to first mangrove tunnel
Through the mangrove
There are three mangrove tunnels, separated by small lakes.
Watch a video of paddling through mangrove.
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Into the mangrove A small lake between two tunnels The tunnels are very narrow, we broke down our paddles
On the sawgrass prairie
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Leaving mangrove behind        
Downstream to Chokolosee Bay
The river is wider and more affected by tide closer to the Chokoloskee River. There are several boat ramps, or launch off the causeway along Smallwood Drive.
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Downstream, the river widens Motorboats more common in this area Calusa Indian shell mound,
c. 400-900 AD. 28 mounds over 30 acres along the river.
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Onto Chokoloskee Bay Crossing to Chokoloskee Approaching launch Roadside launch along the causeway
Wildlife
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Gators Baby gators in a nest Birds

Also visit us here: Bicycling in The Everglades

More information on paddling the Turner River (opens in a new window):

- National Park Service - Canoeing/Kayaking in Big Cypress National Preserve

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