Looking for some ideas on a route in Whitewater Bay/Hell's Bay area! My wife and I want to paddle a three nighter with about 10-12 miles per day to check out the chickee's in February! Looking for some advice about the best place to start/finish( Flamingo/Coot pond or Hell's bay trail) and advice on routes!
Let the weather be your guide. I think you can't go wrong with Lane, Pearl, Hells. Just look (Bing Maps) at all the exploring you can do in that area. It's ridiculous. If you're new to the area and have a calm day in the forecast I'd consider leaving a day to paddle out front in FL bay and also see some of the day trips like 9 mile pond or Noble Hammock (water levels allowing). Have fun and bring a fishing rod.
Wanna do something different, unique and super cool? Are you adventurous? Wanna see a little Florida Bay
and Hells Bay all in one trip?
A few days is perfect for the Hells Bay/Florida Bay Loop.
Start at Noble Hammock Landing take the original Noble Hammock Trail to Alligator Creek, Buttonwood Canal,
Hells Bay Area and exit at Hells Bay Landing. Noble Hammock Landing and Hells Bay Landing are too far
apart to portage but not that far to walk to get the vehicle when starting or finishing. If you plan a close
campsite (like Alligator Creek) to start you could drop off your gear at Noble, park the vehicle and walk
back so your vehicle is at the end for you. If you plan a close campsite (like Lard Can) for the the last night
you might choose to leave the vehicle at Noble so you hike at the end of the trip. You probably won't hike
at all because everybody knows you're doing the loop and you'll probably get a lift.
If the wind is the other direction do the whole trip in the other direction, you've got many options.
You've also got many options on campsites, this trip puts you in the most concentrated campsites
in the park. For the open water adventurous you can take in the new high-rise chickee off
Shark Point. For the wimps you could spend a night in Flamingo before continuing in either direction,
gladesmen grab a cold one and say "Just passing through."
This also uses the original historical route from Hells Bay to West Lake to give your trip
From a historical perspective, I think this loop *is* very cool. And, the Noble Creek part is special in that it is seldom done.
However, you should mention the tactical difficulty of the "portage" involved at the marina... and the 3 miles of traffic in the Buttonwood canal. Having a restocking stop in the middle does allow for a lighter load too .
Thanks for pointing it out... I had not thought of it.. maybe it should be named Terry's loop???
Nope, it's not me I'm only the messenger, an old-timer pointed it out to me in 1986.
In the early 1980's a backcountry ranger was all over it even taking visitors down it.
To this day it's still identified as the Noble Hammock Canoe Trail on the quad map,
but we can go back further and correctly call it the William "Willie" Nobles route or Willie's Loop.
Back in the good old days we didn't have the plug at Flamingo to deal with, but hey,
portaging and paddling through downtown Flamingo makes you appreciate the
coolness of Willie's Loop more.
More challenging than dealing metropolis Flamingo is the length of that day. The shortest
you can cut it down to is Alligator Camp to Hells Bay Chickee, the new chickee is about
the same. Not a real long day but not a short day either. The good thing is that day is at
least your second day traveling in either direction so you can get an early start.
Well, So Max and I took an other trip into the WWW. Pondering back on the first time we saw Whitewater Bay from a canoe sitting in Roberts River, "MAN, that is a huge bay. You can't even see across it"! Others, aka Terry, said Don't paddle the open water, take the backcountry routes....Anyway at almost around 10 am Friday Dec 12, we left Lake Worth, drove to the Flamingo Visitor Center and got our permit at 1:30 PM. We contemplated Joe River, but they said it was too late and too windy. So at 2:30 PM we took off from Coot Bay and took our scenic route through Whitewater Bay.
There were thousands of coots in Coot Bay, guess that's how it got it's name. As we sneaked up they all rose in unison, 1000 feet east and west of us, they took off. It sounded like an air force jet taking off. Crazy how they almost fly as they run across water.
Last check, the weather report was 8 knot winds, not too bad. Right?. The blue sky in Coot Bay turned to grey as we entered the creek to Whitewater Bay. The out going tide in the creek was moving northward quick enough to make the southbound waves stand still as they came in from the Bay. We pulled over and put on our rain gear and PFDs. We got a couple of strange looks from fishing boats heading in for the day as we headed out.
The north wind was blowing a solid 12-14 mph and the light chop was beginning to put down occasional foam lines indicating it was getting rougher. The sky turned grey and we commenced to making time. Max "the paddle machine" kept us into the wind as we headed up the shore line to East River. The chop turned into a light swell as we neared the last mile towards the East River. A bit too rough to stop and do a photo shoot, so use your imagination. We pulled up to the mangroves, bailed out the boat a bit, snacked and noticed it was 4:35 pm and we were just getting into the East River. What a relief it was to be out of the wind and into calm water in the wide and easy East River. About 40 minutes later we entered Hells Bay and saw this great sunset and watched it for about 10 minutes.
Quickly realizing that oops, the track and gps lat/long for the Hells Bay Chickee were not readily available, I informed Max of the need to find the chickee in the next 8 minutes before it was dark. Sitting about 500 feet south of the Gates of Hell, we were well out of sight of the chickee. Once we realized we had not passed through the "Gates" we moved north and west then found the chickee just in time.
The chickee was a very welcomed site to see. We set camp and warmed up some hot clam chowder on the new pocket rocket, had hot tea, roasted SoMores and climbed in for a good night sleep, with a hot thermos of water for coffee in the morning right in the tent. The next day...WWBay?..No Way!. We took Hells Bay Trail back, stopping at Lard Can for lunch. I got a lift from some friendly Chinese tourists back to Coot Bay to get the car. We agreed, that we saw enough of Whitewater Bay for now. Another fun trip filled with adventure. Thanks for the Glades Go Deep members that help get us off the couch and start livin' the dream.
Fun trip Bill. Glad you had that time with Max. I can't wait to get back out there.
There's a reason it's called what it's called!
Go south or go north, but never up the middle!
As the year closes out, HAPPY 2015 to All the Deep Paddlers!!!!!