Everglades Exploration Network

This thread picks up from Vivian's remark about the FTA's idea of a trail connecting the BCNP and ENP in the 'Gator Hook trail' discussion.

History tells us that there was once a route connecting the Loop Rd. with what is now the Lostman's 5 campsite in the ENP. Dr. C. Tebeau's book Man in the Everglades says this about the Tropical Development Company's Poinciana development in the Lostman's River area in 1925:

"...the Chevelier Corporation was building the 'Loop Road' west into Monroe County. Visitors to Poinciana drove to a point about two miles west of Pinecrest, from which they then walked six miles south to a canoe landing on a branch of the upper part of Lostman's River known as Lostman's 5."

Tebeau's distances don't look right to me. Two miles west of Pinecrest on the Loop is the head of Dayhoff Slough. From there to the nearest hint of a water trail to Lostman's 5 is more like 10 miles as the crow flies. The old Sawmill Road trail just west of Pace's Dike is a better bet, and Pace's Dike at the SW corner is just over 6 miles from the edge of the mangrove country near Lostman's 5.

I won't pretend to know much about any of these areas, having only made a one short and muddy day hike down the Pace's Dike ORV trail. Tom Caldwell has a photo here taken in Gum Slough, and might I guess that this was where the Sawmill Rd trail crosses the slough?

Other connection possibilities also come from Vivian. She has told me that a member of FTA Cypress South has connected New River with Sunday Bay from the Tamiami Trail, and she gave me a link to an article in the Waterfront News about a recent attempt to canoe south from the Loop to Lostman's. Do you still have that link, Vivian?

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Keith, this is the link I have and it does not work anymore. I remember it was an article involving Tony Pernas and his trip down.


I did make it a point to ask Bill if he would come onto this forum, hopefully he will. There is a wealth of information from some of our members. They have been quietly but deliberately exploring all kinds of connection and routes.
Ok, I figgered this one out. The WFN website archives their articles by year and month. I found this out by looking at the URL for the Tony Pernas Shark River Slough article in our Resources forum. So I put a /08/12/ right after the http://waterfront-news.com part of the address, and voila!


Too bad they don't provide an easier way to access their archived stuff.
Funny how things reinforce other ideas.
I suspected another way down into the Wilderness Waterway would be through Willy Willy
not Plate Creek area. Knowing that the ENP stair step boundary was very close to Willy
Willy and my son talking about running the stair step in airboats, I studied the aerials.
The water connections reach pretty far northeast toward the stair step. I had even thought
of being dropped off by an airboater at that point. I did not look past the stair step until this
article. So now, a year or so later, as I read this article I followed what they did on an aerial,
oh look an airboat trail, oh look a whole damn estate in the middle of Coconut Hammock.
Let's just keep going southwest and see what I come to, hmm, not too far and
here's the mangrove edge and then...Willy Willy
again. Well, I'll be, back to Willy Willy. Oh, one more thing, Alan was all over Willy Willy back
in December looking for ....guess what....a connection off Loop Road. Ya ever get the feeling
things are focusing in to one point.
First, cabin my $%@#, looking at the aerials that's a full blown estate in the middle of
Coconut Hammock. Estates need clear airboat access which mean clear beaten down trails.
Getting to Coconut Hammock is a done deal.
Next step would be to contact Mitchell? As in Mitchell's Landing? Anybody who's got that much
housing that close to Willy Willy knows the old pre-park route to Willy Willy. Second, it would be interesting to know where the guys in the article went from the estate,
toward Willy Willy or toward Lostmans.
I'd even bet the old route comes into Willy Willy off that north creek right at Willy Willy.
Third, contact Alan, how far northeast did he get?

I could be talked into doing this some time early next season when we get high water again.
However, as we know with the Lost Portage, it could be impossibly overgrown killing the chances
of success in very short distances. The easy way to explore this is to powerboat to Willy Willy
and then canoe every possible passage northeast toward Coconut Hammock,
if you can break through the mangroves and there's water on the other side, it's do-able.
This method would also provide maximum exploring time.
Unless he took another trip in December that I don't know about, I was with Alan at Willy Willy that day, and we didn't get very far up that same north creek you talk about. Then again, we weren't trying too hard either. Neither one of us was in the mood for 'shwacking that afternoon. The creek was blocked within a half-mile of the Willy Willy dock, but was not necessarily unblockable, just some mangroves growing across the creek. How much of that you would run into is hard to say. The aerials show a lot of open creek sections with some overgrowth here and there up until you get to the margins of Dixon Slough in the area of N 25° 35.837' W 81° 2.715'. After that it gets real interesting. I prepared for the December trip by making up some 8.5x11 Google Earth screen captures for printing and laminating them to keep them dry in the boat. I can upload these if you want to see them.

I've already started planning a trip next season to stay at Willy Willy for the 3 day max and try again in a serious way to get in to Cocoanut Hammock from that direction. Doing it with your boat would be even better and save me the 4 days out and back it would cost me on my own.
I still gotta say, though, that Tebeau's account of a walkable trail from the Loop to Lostman's 5 does stir the imagination something fierce!
The Waterfront News link is not Tony's trip. He made it through to the gulf. I've got pictures from the trip (not taken by me). From what they look like, the trip was tough even by TP standards! Lots'a draggin', but they busted through! It can be done. If I look through my old emails, I might have some route details.
We can do that, my boat is always ready and I have a canoe rank, that's how I did all the
probes at the Lost Portage. I can be at Willy Willy in about 4 hours from my house
and I can carry all the conveniences.
My only problem is days off, classes will be running so the only multiple days I'll have
will be Thanksgiving weekend and after final exams in the second week of December.
Permits will start on 20 November.
I predict it will be a matter of pushing canoe in as far as you can go then abandon it
and just start climbing through the mangroves. I'll bet there will be cut branches in there
and that will be the dead give-away you're on the right path. Who ever owns that palace
on Coconut Hammock knows how to get to Willy Willy and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if
they even go back and forth. Unbelievable, I never noticed the Coconut Hammock
mansion, it's no surprise why I always hear airboats when I stay at Willy Willy.
I just sent an email to Tony to see if he did a Mitchell Landing - Coconut Hammock - Willy Willy

Here's a picture Tony had sent me. Looks like Mitchells to me. Among the other shots are a bunch of pictures of tired guys dragging boats through dry grass & hacking their way through non-existant mangrove "tunnels". A typical trip!

But nothing that would identify the route.
I just got a reply to my email from Tony:

>Pretty close. We came out just south of the camp site [Willy Willy]
>(by Big Lostman's Bay) and being NPS folks camped at the Old Ranger
>Station at the mouth of Lostman's River.
>Continued on to Chokoloskee.
>From Coconuts down to an opening in a creek can be pretty rough though.
>Still planning on checking out the lost portage?

There's a reason the Slough King is THE Slough King - Anything you can think of that
involves a slough he says "Been there, done that."

He has not stopped mentioning the Lost Portage since I brought it up with him.
Hmmm...turn him loose on the Lost Portage? I'm still interested in it although
after two probes I'm not sure what good it is to me. The only thing it's
good for is a through trip on the WW and that's negated by the toughness of the portage.

You take the old Sawmill Road (now called Paces Dike) follow it south past the SW corner of the old dike and pass Tin Top Camp on the right and it will take you to only one of 2 good spots to cross Gum Slough.  You should see logs laid down where they tried to build up the road so vehicles could cross.   After crossing Gum Slough you will be in the Lost Mans Pines. All high and dry most of the year. I would imagine this is where the walkable trail was on to Lostmans 5.  I have an old map if I can find it.  But I also have heard of the other Gum Slough crossing at Dayhoffs but I have never been there and this may be the 1925 Gum Slough crossing 2 miles west of Pinecrest you speak of.


Keith W said:

I still gotta say, though, that Tebeau's account of a walkable trail from the Loop to Lostman's 5 does stir the imagination something fierce!

"...the Chevelier Corporation was building the 'Loop Road' west into Monroe County. Visitors to Poinciana drove to a point about two miles west of Pinecrest, from which they then walked six miles south to a canoe landing on a branch of the upper part of Lostman's River known as Lostman's 5."



Hey Keith, I remember the remains of an old Bald Cypress bridge about 2 miles west of Pinecrest, as the crow flies, crossing the canal south of the Loop Road near Dayhoffs, left over from the logging days.  Very few people know of its existence as it cannot be easily seen even if you are walking by.  It may still be there.  I wonder if this is your trail?


It would be a little more than 6 miles to a canoe landing but maybe they didnt want to discourage any potential buyers with a 10 mile hike.  They would then most likey cross Gum Slough at the second lesser known crossing I spoke of.  Isnt there a canal cut by the Chevelier Corporation near Lostmans 5?  Could this canal be the landing they walked to?

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