Everglades Exploration Network

I had been wondering if it was possible to go from Pahayokee Overlook to the airboat trail in Shark River Slough. The hope was to be able to do a one day slough trip exiting at Payhaokee; thus avoiding an overnight at Cane Patch this time of year and a 30 mile paddle home.The water is up, partially on the road to Pahayokee.
I set out yesterday on a general course of 300 hoping to intersect the airboat trail just above the beginning of Rookery branch. Straight line it is only about 5 miles or so. Plenty of water, 16" at the boardwalk. The paddling started out a little slow with some relief in the clearer areas. It started to deteriorate with more areas of thicker sawgrass. By standing up I could navigate though them; the goal being worth the effort. Well, about halfway, I got totally locked up in tall grass, climbed a tree looking for a clear way, none seen. In this same area I had come accross a tall PVC pipe in a small clearing and thought I might be onto something. Tried every direction and never got more than 100'.
Now, I have located this spot on GE as 25-27'02" / 80-48'51". The tree I climbed is in the little Cypress dome to the left. I looked in the general direction I wished to travel. Blocked from my view is an apparent AIRBOAT TRAIL about 600 ft to the left as seen now on GE. This trail seems to meander in the general directon I wanted to go with a few spots missing and then peters out entirely.
Questions for the audience;
Any info on this trail?
Is this a hopeless mission? ie is the sawgrass just to thick as you approach the slough, making it impassable without a defined trail.
Via GE, it looks a little clearer north of my path, a lot more open spots, twice the distance, but perhaps a viable exit from the slough.

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I had pretty much the same experience in '08 when I took my skiff out west of Pahayokee. The water was like you say it is now, high enough to cover parts of the road. Nice easy going for while through spike rush and sparse sawgrass, then you hit a wall of tall thick grass that is impassable. Finding a way through here may be possible but it will take multiple days of trying different routes, and high water like we have now.

Back in the 70s Glen Simmons poled a skiff from Shark Valley to Pahayokee, but back then the airboat trails were still being used and hadn't grown over like they are now, and he knew the Slough better than most. Nobody uses them anymore and they're pretty much gone except for a faint trace on the aerials. A couple of years ago Terry and me tried to find the Main Street airboat trail extension where it used to run between Bottle Creek and Squawk Creek. We found the PVC pole that marked the trail on the north side of Squawk Creek standing in the middle of heavy sawgrass that was over our heads. I would not count on being able to use any of these old trails.

Use the 1999 GE image, the old airboat trail comes off Main Street just north of Bottle Creek and

after making a little jog around a thick area heads southeast.  It stops just west and a little south of

Pahayokee.   From there it looks clearest to go northeast up to that ridge just south of Pahayokee

then turn east and follow the north side of that ridge in a southeast direction to Pahayokee.

I have never done this only studied it up, down and side ways.  It will be a double black diamond

trip anyway you cut it.  The airboat trails grow over fast when not used, even ones in the latest

GE views are hard to navigate.

Yes.   Having an exit from the Tamiami Trail - Main Street - Rookery Branch run would be a

very good thing to have.   One day trips down the big slough!   It would also make a one day backdoor

run to Canepatch by jumping in at Pahayokee.

Tony did Tamiami Trail - Pahayokee once and he admitted the part from Main Street to Pahayokee

was hard.  He slogged it most of the way.  Many groups did this back in the 1980's.

The season has started, I was paddling Saturday and it was perfect.   High water and not a

single bug, I would have liked it a little cooler but nature's AC (the breeeze) made it as good as


For one day slough trips and this height of water everybody should be paddling the Pine Island -

Nine Mile Pond, Taylor Slough Canoe Trail.  You've only got this month and maybe some of November

before water levels push us down the highway toward saltwater.

Thank you both for your response, and again Kieth,, for the site.

Looking at the '99 GE, it looks like a heavily traveled area. Fast forward to the current (1-22-10) image and I see not a trace of it in the area I stopped but do see a different one that shows on no other image. Following this one, on the screen, as best I could down here with our third world internet, it does meander and peter out in places. It then seems to hook up with open spots and give the appaerance more of gator crawls from one open spot to the next, along with some straighter runs, eventually leading to "main street" or hanging a left into the top of Rookery Branch. I'll take another try next week, a little better prepared with more ariels and way points. I'll find out pretty quickly if this trail is also lost.

Which is, where is, Bottle creek?       

Here's Bottle Creek, Rookery Branch, Main Street (white route) and

the old airboat trail toward Pahayokee (blue route).

You made it all the way to there?!   You're halfway there!

As you noted dropping more to the south looks like where there has been more traffic.

How did you start out?   Similar to the blue line on this image?

I know traveling between Main Street and Pahayokee is going to be hard

but the best route has got to be found.

Yes, that's the spot. I launched on the north side of the Pahayokee road just before the parking area. Paddled relatively straight to it, not being aware of the blue line. Having just frittered away another two hours on GE, I'm pretty well convinced, short of convincing researchers to take the air boat for a spin to count spiders, it's not going to happen from Pahayokee unless you go way north, and even then questionable. I'll take a look at a spot off the Park road just south of Sisal pond this week, but I fear we are loosing the water. 

I miss posted a couple of idea routes on yakmasters bucket list comment.

This is a copy of the bucket list post. I searched the satelite images a bit this weekend. On the attached image there are two satelite line routes which are NOT ground tested. The south track follows what looks like an old airboat trail or perhaps it is one of those satelite illusions you mentioned. The north track is just a route drawn by connecting the thinnest ground cover areas together. The red line is Main Street.


Nice chart, some day I'll figure out how to do that. I end up printing and then drawing on them, kind of messy.

  I can get you to the second waypoint on the southern route. You'll have to lead from there.

This is the test route for the south track on the Untested Illusion photo.  Save the gpx files to the desktop and drag/drop them into GE.  Then turn the track on/off to see the trail on the aerial that the track follows.  This is an untested route. Users beware :)!


The Pahayokee Water Station showed a high this year of +2.5 it's now +1.9,

over a half foot drop in water height.   Pahayokee is probably done for the season

but I have mapped a probe on GE that follows gator crawls roughly passing

off the north tip of heads at 27.18'N & 47.93'W, 28.23'N & 48.65'W and

29.91'N and 48.86'W.   Now that GE has got the resolution down to picking

out gator crawls I have been successful following them in the slough up near

Tamiami Trail.   Pahayokee is going to take a lot of determination.

Those points generally follow the north probe i was looking at above, which had some leaps of faith through the brush. The aerials are so detailed, it is easy to confuse a 1 ft wide trail for a useable route. I stop and measure a couple trail widths to get a better perspective for an on-the-ground feel. October / Nov went by faster than i thought. Starting of earlier next high water season might be the ticket. 

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