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Trip report: Nov. 2011

West Lake - Paddling in The Everglades

West Lake is one of the largest in the central part of Everglades National Park and the open waters can be choppy on windy days. The concrete ramp at the trailhead is an easy launch; no motors over 5.5 hp allowed. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle Everglades, West Lake, kayak, canoe, Florida

Distance: 16 miles roundtrip
Location: Collier County (Everglades National Park)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: 7 miles north of Flamingo off Main Park Road (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Miami, Miccosukee Indian Reservation, Florida Keys

West Lake... Comments and Photos

This is an alligator and crocodile habitat, plus the usual assortment of Everglades wildlife, birds and fish can be seen. Restrooms are available at the trailhead. A half-mile boardwalk trail through mangrove meanders from the road to the lake.

This can be a full-day paddle, mostly open water subject to sun and wind, so standard precautions are recommended - do not paddle alone, bring food, plenty of water, sun block, insect repellant, waterproof bags for gear, tide chart, and a GPS. The closest visitor center to West Lake is the Flamingo Visitor Center, including an information center with natural history exhibits, a ramp at the marina, and boat tours and rentals.

West Lake

The eight mile trail (one way) goes through mangrove tunnels connecting West Lake (which itself is about 2 miles) to Long Lake and the Lungs to Alligator Creek. Alligator Creek connects to Florida Bay at Garfield Bight where primitive camping is available.


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