Everglades Exploration Network

I have a mind to try and reach Robert's Lakes Strand from the Gator Hook Trail on the Monroe Station leg of the Loop. I know the Fl. Scenic Trail runs through the Strand on the eastern end but I have yet to hear of anybody coming in from the west. The first couple of miles of the old Gator Hook logging tram that runs southeast off the Loop has been cleared, but it's all wild after that. The line of the tram is still evident after the cleared path runs out, and I was able to follow it for about another half-mile but it gets pretty boggy in places. Anybody else have any info on this route?

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I wish I knew about more of these backcountry trails...what I want to know is 1. where you launch into Shark Slough 2. Is still creek the access to Lostmans or Rookery Branch or where ever you come through to the salty side and 3. Where do find maps of where this stuff is marked? I've been dying to go tramping off into the muck but can find little info...those pics you have are amazing btw
Your questions are the reason this group exists. Terry and me started this group as a way to share information about the deep backcountry in recognition of the fact that there was virtually no public resource (online or otherwise) where people could go to get this information. Most of your questions can be answered by reading the forums, however, I'll try to answer your questions here:

1. The preferred launching area for a Slough trip is the L-67 canal extension that runs south of the Tamiami Trail at the end of Dead Body Rd. (the old Trail). I give detailed directions in Part 1 of my Slough Trip account.

2. Still Creek runs between the Noble Hammock Trail and West Lake. It is an unofficial trail and is not shown on any recent maps. The creek at the end of the Shark River Slough airboat trail is called Bottle Creek, which runs into Rookery Branch.

3. Most of this stuff is not marked on any trail maps or nautical charts.
thank you very much, the forum is a bit overwhelming with all the info, I'm just going to take my time and slowly go through it all, thanks again
I drove the loop yesterday. The water levels have really come down! There was a burnoff on the west side around the Gator Hook trailhead. From the growback it seems like it was probably a couple of weeks ago. Looks like it could be a real nice tromp in a couple of months!

From his pix, it looks like Tom has done more than his share of bushwacking in the neighborhood. He might be able to give us some pointers on where & how.
I did the hike you are comtemplating last year. After about a mile and 1/4 the gator hook trail becomes impassable for all practical purposes. Thereafter, until you reach the Florida trail, you will be "bushwacking", or, in other words, off trail. After the gator hook trail ends it is thick in there, often wet and slow going. Be sure to bring a compass and gps or else it is likely you will get lost. Also, I suggest that you carefully review the route you plan to take on wikimapia or google earth using the satellite photos. Note that even though on the satellite photos you can see where the old logging trams went in most places they are not evident from ground level and do not provide a trail to follow. I can provide you with the coordinates of where the Florida trial turns to the east after going south from the Oasis ranger station; this is on the north edge of Robert's Lake strand and is a good point to aim for after you leave the gator hook trail. Let me know if you want the coordinates and if so I will get them for you. I suggest that you bring with you a light weight hammock since it will provide a place for you to sit down or lie down, i.e. a place to rest. Look in the camping section of WalMart for such a hammock. Finally, note that when I did the hike you are comtemplating it took me nearly all day and it was strenuous; start early. Good luck.
Thanks Tom! I've already gone about a half-mile beyond the Gator Hook trail so I know what you mean about the 'shwacking part. I did a write up on this trail on the FloridaAdventuring.com website here a couple of years ago. Bill Dishong of the FTA commented on that one and I've sent him email asking him about the trip but he hasn't responded.

I plan on making an overnight of this one - one day out and one day back. I'll be bringing my Hennessy Expedition Asym to sleep in. Please send me those GPS coords! Wouldn't it be nice to open a route through there and finish the job they started with the trail?

The burn took place on Feb, 7, I believe. I was out there on the 8th and it was still smoking in places. There is still some water back in the strand, but mostly just mud along the trail before you get to the raised tram. By May it should be fairly dry, I hope.
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More questions for Tom: what time of year did you make this trip, and how deep was the water that you had to walk through?
I made the trip at the end of March last year. This hike was led by Bill Dishong of the Florida Trail Assn. I am a member of the FTA and recommend membership for those interested in this kind of hiking. It is safer to go with at least one other person, especially someone comfortable in the swamps. Last year in March the water was higher than usual but even then the water level was low enough to not pose much of a problem; it probably averaged about 9" deep. The thick vegetation is the main impediment. The gps coordinates for the end of the gator hook trail, i.e. where it is no longer easily passable, are: N 25 48.951' W 081 04.964'. The coordinates for where the Florida Trail turns east after going south from the Oasis ranger station are: N 25 49.405' W 081 01.939'. When we hiked last March we went down the gator hook trail and then bushwacked east all the way to the Florida trail and then went north on the FT until we reached Oasis (about 6.5 miles total). We were all exhausted at the end of the hike. In May it will be even hotter and proably buggier too. Be sure to take a water filter so that you can safely drink the swamp water (so that hydration will not be an issue; I use a Bota filter-about $15 on the internet). Note also that except when walking in high water I use snake gaitors from the knee down made by Turtleskin; they are not cheap but to me worth the peace of mind that comes from protection against venemous snakes; gator hook strand, and Robert's lake strand, are prime cottonmouth habitat. Any more questions? This coming saturday I am going from the Loop road to Oasis on the FT, a distance of about 7.5 miles; I'll post some pics from the hike. By the way Keith, this website looks very nice; good job.
And everybody thinks I'm nuts, you guys are nuts nuts, but, hey, don't stop the postings
I love reading about nutter nuts. But you nuts may not be the nuttest - I passed a
hiker (who was canoeing in December, that's the only way I could pass a hiker) who
wanted to walk from Shark Valley Tower to Pa-hay-okee. ?!?! I said, "You mean swim?!?!
Yeah, I had a feeling you did this hike with Bill last March. His comments on my FloridaAdventuring.com write-up and your own comments (and photos - cottonmouth and orchids) were too close to be a coincidence. I've never met him and would like to sometime. You too. I'm a member of FTA in the Suncoast chapter, but I don't get out with them anywhere near as much as I should. Nearly all of my spare time is spent south in the Cypress or ENP.

The advice about the snake gaiters is good, I'll look into it. My biggest concern was with water depth. When I hike, I carry my camera and photo gear on a body harness and waist belt so I can also carry a backpack for camping. Anything deeper than my thighs makes this a problem and I have to carry the photo gear in a backpack, which limits my range to day trips.

May is the driest part of the year for the Cypress so that's why I'm going then. I've become philosophical regarding the heat and the bugs - they are both a part of it and should be experienced with the rest of the environment, within reason. My friends think I'm loony because of this attitude, which is why most of my trips are done solo. I may be crazy but I'm not stupid, and I'm pretty careful and don't take unnecessary risks when I'm alone in the wilderness. I rented a PLB for the Slough crossing and I'll probably do the same for the Gator Hook hike. Truth is, I'm a loner by nature and solitude is my favorite companion.

I will most likely come up with more questions between now and May, and I thank you for what you've offered so far. Enjoy your hike this weekend!
Walking from Shark Valley to Pahayokee, you gotta be kidding. Even if he did this in the dry season, did this person never hear of pinnacle limestone and solution holes? Swimming would be the least of his worries.
I had the pleasure of finally meeting Bill today at the Friends of the Fakahatchee picnic. He has many plans in mind to look at trails leading from Tamiami Trail south and one in particular that goes to Pa Hay Okee. There is also talk about a trail that connects the Everglades National Park to Big Cypress.

Membership to the Florida Trail Association is an investment in our resources. We as volunteers keep the trails cleared and try to aquire more land to add to our trail. I volunteer with the Happy Hoofers that take care of the northern section of the Big Cypress.

Bill is with the Big Cypress chapter out of Miami and the southern portion of the Big Cypress is part of that chapters area. For more information on trips into this area. They need people like all of you to keep these activities going. So far, not many are interested in such exploration:

http://cypress.floridatrail.org/BCFTAactivities.html

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