Everglades Exploration Network

Over the weekend of December 4-5, our team of six made the connection known as the Lost Portage, between North Harney River and Broad River. Up until now, the only route between Cane Patch and Camp Lonesome was nearly 30 miles long and took two days to travel. We have shortened this connection to about 8 miles that should take no more than 6 hours for the average paddler to complete. The actual Lost Portage passage is less than 2 miles long.

Outward Bound groups have done this before, and they are the ones who gave the Lost Portage its name. Their undocumented routes plowed straight through heavy sawgrass and they dragged their boats almost the entire way. They took two days to make the crossing and spent the night in their canoes. We have managed to find a clear, open route that can be done in less than 3 hours, and impacts the sawgrass prairie far less by following navigable water trails at every opportunity.

While every Wilderness Waterway paddler should experience the Nightmare (until now, the closest thing to a 'shortcut' between Cane Patch and Camp Lonesome), those desiring more in the way of adventure on their next trip should consider the Lost Portage. However, before you start making plans, I'd like to make it clear that this is not a route for beginners, and even experienced paddlers should be well prepared before attempting this crossing. I'd also suggest that you don't try to do this solo until you've had a chance to cross at least once with a companion. You don't want to get stuck out there alone without any help. There are areas of shallow water where you may need to get out and pull your boat, and you will encounter holes that will open up under your feet and send you chest-deep into the mud soup without any warning. There is a ridge of high sawgrass about 200 yards wide that you will need to pull your boat and gear across, and the central section of the Lost Portage runs through a series of interconnecting freshwater ponds that are difficult to follow on the ground. We will post a GPS route as soon as it is finalized, but the bottom line is that there is great potential for getting lost unless you are very observant.

Now that the 'gotchas' have been listed, I guarantee that you are in for a real treat when you finally get to cross the Lost Portage! 99% of Everglades paddlers never get past the wall of mangroves that lines the Wilderness Waterway, and the Lost Portage provides a rare glimpse into the deep sawgrass Everglades that very few ever get to see from the boat, and that you will never come close to duplicating just by driving down the park road. Being there up-close-and-personal is the way to go.

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A team returned to the Lost Portage on 19 December and improved the route.
In summary they removed two hairpin turns and found a much improved shorter
route across the Ridge. The Ridge is a difficult segment of ever so slightly higher
elevation that requires pulling the canoe through tall sawgrass. The Ridge crossing
in the first exploration was difficult for a total of about 200 yards, a 100 yards on
each side of the peak. The new route reduces this distance to a total of about
100 yards by connecting small ponds and running slightly straighter. Most of the
distance north of the Ridge to the headwaters of the North Spur is paddleable.
The North Spur seems to be freshwater run off and is quite deep. About half the
distance south of the Ridge to the South Portal is paddleable with occasional spots
that need short portages (all the portage spots on the Lost Portage have some water,
too shallow to paddle but plenty to float a fully loaded WW canoe). Almost all of the
remaining southern part heading to the South Portal needs to be slogged, however,
the team reported finding a deep creek at the end of the day that flows into the
South Portal Creek. If this creek is passable it will cut off close to 300 yards of
slogging so the final route is still to be determined. Study the Lost Portage on
Goggle Earth. The "No water connection..." note on the NOAA Nautical Chart needs
to be appended to read "Passable by hand propelled craft only."
"Passable by hand (& foot) propelled craft only"

I'd be interested to see your route/s if you have time to post it.

I think I know the answer but is the Lost Portage affected by seasonal water levels but not tides? It's 9 months till our next trip and it is driving me crazy.

Yes, except for the two creeks at either end it's seasonal water.

But you're out of your boat regardless so the water level really

doesn't matter, you're going to get your feet wet.

It's just another unique way to traverse the WW.

Terry - can you give an estimated time creek to creek? Does the time change much depending on water depth?

1 to 2 hours to go from one side to the other, there's always enough water to float the boat

and there's nothing in your way.  You just have to slog in the middle.  The route is very easy

to follow, it's used so much it shows on GE.

Great info - thanks.

I see the tracks and can somehow figure it out but not comfortable trying this myself. Is the lost portage something the park will sanction as an option to the alternative waterway trail? If so, I would like to add that to the list on my GMP comments.

On my list for next season.

It's not already an alternative to the magenta line?!?!    Geee, and the first time I heard about it was in 1975?!?!

Yes, paddlers should pack the GMP but this one is already there, there's really nothing the park has to do

other than continue to allow our open access.

If paddlers can steal the GMP show it would be better resources spent on making Charley Creek, the

north creek out of Canepatch, Cabbage Creek and the north creek out of Willy Willy "official".

These require regularly schedule maintenance otherwise they'll be lost.   How ironic that these routinely

used trails, even listed in WW books, are kept open by decades of illegal maintenance.



vivian said:

I see the tracks and can somehow figure it out but not comfortable trying this myself. Is the lost portage something the park will sanction as an option to the alternative waterway trail? If so, I would like to add that to the list on my GMP comments.

Thanks. I'll take this as a challenge. No GPS No satellite map. See if I can get good and lost. No wait, I have no trouble getting lost. Can't wait.

Terry said:

1 to 2 hours to go from one side to the other, there's always enough water to float the boat

and there's nothing in your way.  You just have to slog in the middle.  The route is very easy

to follow, it's used so much it shows on GE.

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