Hi all! After sitting out most of 2016 due to a shoulder injury, I was finally able to get back out on the water last month. I decided to take my brother-in-law and nephew to Alligator Creek for their first overnight in the Glades.
The last time I'd been to Alligator Creek was back in 2000. On that trip, we'd gotten caught in an easterly storm on West Lake and had a hell of a time getting across, so this time I decided to avoid as much of the lake as possible by putting in at Noble Hammock and taking Still Creek.
Neither ranger at Flamingo knew anything about the route. One asked me to email her afterwards. Here's what I sent her:
"We were able to get through. It's a very tight, labyrinthine route that gets increasingly tighter as you near West Lake. It begins at an unnumbered PVC pipe between markers 60 and 61 on the Noble loop.
After that, the path is marked by blue plastic ribbons tied to mangrove branches. They're all faded, though, and can be hard to spot. A few have broken off, and I'll bet some are missing, as it wasn't always clear where to go. We briefly lost the route several times.
We put in at Noble at 11:30 and hit West Lake around 3pm. Bow/stern snags in mangrove roots while turning were a big problem for us; we also got wedged between roots in narrow tunnels several times and had to pull ourselves through.
However, we were in a 17' long (~3' wide) Grumman canoe with two adults and a kid, plus gear; it's a slow, unwieldy canoe even on a good day. It wouldn't have been so bad if I'd been solo in a smaller canoe or kayak."
I'll add here that I think a lot of the snags could have been avoided had my brother-in-law not been such an inexperienced bowman. It didn't help that he's also scared of spiders, and the entire creek was absolutely covered with spiderwebs.
I didn't note the exact water level when we put in, but we put in at low tide and still made it through. I don't think higher levels would have made Still Creek any easier due to a lot of low-hanging branches and overgrowth, particularly in the last stretch of the route, which I've seen aptly labeled here as "The Chute." That part was not fun.
Alligator Creek was more or less exactly how I remembered it—muddy, but with a gorgeous coastal prairie view to the north and enough trees to hang a hammock tent, though bugs were much worse this time around.
We took advantage of easterly winds and stuck to West Lake on the way back. I do wish they'd clear some of the overgrowth, as it'd be a much more interesting alternative.