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Latest update: December 2022

Turner River...

Paddling in Big Cypress National Preserve

Located in the Big Cypress National Preserve (adjacent to Everglades National Park), the Turner River meanders through freshwater marsh, mangrove habitat, and sawgrass prairie. 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 channels. (Detailed map and photos below.)

Paddle Everglades, Turner River, kayak, canoe, Florida

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)
Nearby points of interest: The Everglades, Miccosukee Indian Reservation, Ochopee Post Office, Big Cypress Gallery


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Page Summary:

  1. Paddling on the Turner River
  2. Upper Turner River
    - US41 launch downstream to mangrove
    - Through the mangrove
  3. Lower Turner River
    - On the sawgrass prairie
    - Downstream at Chokoloskee Bay
  4. Wildlife
  5. About Big Cypress National Preserve
  6. More Information and Resources

Paddling on the Turner River... Comments and Photos

The Turner River Paddle Trail runs 8.5 miles one-way from the put-in on US 41 to Chokoloskee 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. There are no facilities along the trail, bring water, sunscreen and bug spray.

Upper Turner River

US41 launch downstream to mangrove

At US41 it's a short drag/carry from parking area to launch. At the US 41 bridge is an option to go upstream, which can be blocked at low water. Continue downstream under the bridge. Outfitters, tours launch here.

Through the mangrove

There are three mangrove tunnels, separated by small lakes. The tunnels are very narrow, we broke down our paddles.

Watch a video of paddling through mangrove on our Facebook page .

Lower Turner River

On the sawgrass prairie

Paddling through the open marsh there's no shade, but lots of birds.

Downstream at Chokoloskee Bay

The river is wider and more affected by tide closer to Chokoloskee Bay. Motorboats are more common in this area. There are several boat ramps, or launch off the causeway along Smallwood Drive.

An interesting stop is the Calusa Indian shell mound, c. 400-900 AD. 28 mounds over 30 acres along the river.


Much wildlife to be seen, and scenery to enjoy... many birds, alligators.

About Big Cypress National Preserve

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. 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.

More Information and Resources

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