Edge of the Everglades, Florida

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14440A, Kayak


  • Kayak at the gateway to the 100-mile wilderness waterway
  • Enjoy historic and infamous Everglades City and Chokoloskee
  • Stay at comfortable accommodations with hot showers


  • Kayaks, instruction, and all equipment
  • All meals
  • All ground transportation


DatesJan 12–17, 2014
Min. Age18
StaffPatrick Nichols

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Deep in the southern and eastern part of Florida, the 10,000 Islands, Big Cypress, and Everglades all hang precariously on the edge of our day-to-day world. This spectacular area is an aquatic preserve and home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and numerous wading birds. They make up a chain of mangrove islands off the coast of southwest Florida. This refuge is part of one of the largest expanses of mangrove estuary in North America.

Our van transport will take us each day to a new launch point in this mystic wilderness. Mangroves and magnificent sunsets move us to memories of our more primitive past -- a time when birds blackened the sun and reptiles ruled in this river of grass. Our kayaks will let us penetrate this liquid landscape to reveal its secrets.


The leaders will make every reasonable effort to meet the goals outlined in the itinerary. Please keep in mind that weather or other conditions beyond our control may cause us to modify the itinerary in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the group.

Day 1: We meet at 3 p.m. at the Ivy House in Everglades City. This rustic, picturesque little fishing village will be our base for the week. After we meet and greet, a basic kayak orientation by an ACA instructor will be available. The first meal of the trip is dinner, and then we'll be off to sightsee and toast the sunset!

Day 2: Chokoloskee Bay is a great place to begin our adventures. As we paddle across this wide expanse of saltwater, it's difficult to imagine the average depth being only two feet. We land and have lunch on a special island that once hosted native Americans, and a homestead and farm. A freshwater spring, which still flows, was the key to survival at this remote outpost. We have time for a hike and then we return with the tide to Everglades City.

Day 3: After breakfast, our van will transport us to our drop point on Halfway Creek. Following the tide, we paddle this beautiful creek. This narrow, twisting stream moves beneath the wiry, entwined limbs of low, overhead red mangroves that form a tunnel of green, waxy leaves arching completely across the waterway. Large buttonwood trees filled with bromeliads and the occasional orchid can be seen. We'll stop by the infamous Smallwood Store (a museum of Everglades past) on Chokoloskee Island (this is the setting for the demise of Mr. Watson in Peter Matthiessen's book "Killing Mister Watson").

Day 4: Today we enter the mysterious mangrove labyrinth known as East Lake. Miles of mangrove tunnels lay before us. We paddle gently through these magical portals deep into the swamp.

Day 5: Today we will take the twisting mangrove-lined Blackwater River to Mud Bay. Mud bays and flats may look barren, but in reality they are teeming with life. The mud flats attract all manner of hungry inhabitants. Old homestead locations like Old Grove and Grocery Place are of historical interest. This river trail meanders through almost 5,000 acres of mangrove wilderness preserve.

Day 6: This is the last morning of our Everglades Adventure. This would be a great opportunity to hike or explore this sleepy little fishing village. Then it's time to say goodbye to this remarkable wilderness.



Getting There

Fort Myers is the closest airport of any size. Naples also has a municipal airport. Miami International is a bit farther -- about 1.5 hours away by car. Take SR 41 South to the intersection of 29. Go right -- the road leads directly to Everglades City.

A detailed map and a list of recommended gear list will be provided for all participants. Everyone is encouraged to carpool.

Accommodations and Food

Our comfortable accommodations at the Ivy House in Everglades City have cool air conditioning and are double-occupancy. There is a common room for all to gather. Hot showers and flush toilets will make for a very pleasant stay. Food is prepared by the leaders and will include local seafood (which is a specialty in this little fishing village).

Trip Difficulty

Kayaking is physically challenging. You should be fit and in good health. Our average days will be three to five hours of paddling, with breaks when possible. We will be paddling primarily in the calm bays and rivers. There will be tides and wind. This trip is easy to moderate, and you can always take a day off. If you are looking to improve your skill, an ACA instructor will be available. An enthusiastic, fit beginner would enjoy this trip.



  • Matthiessen, Peter, Killing Mister Watson.
  • Hiaasen, Carl, Nature Girl.
  • Smith, Patrick, A Land Remembered.


We will discuss what can be done to help the Everglades survive the onslaught of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst ecological disaster in history.

Three hundred square miles of U.S. sugar farmland (aka Everglades) is for sale. Florida Power and Light is building a fossil fuel-burning plant on the edge of the Everglades.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.

While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from Everglades National Park.



It's not Patrick Nichols' 35 years of wilderness experience or his extensive background as an outdoor enthusiast and wilderness educator that distinguish his tours from the ordinary. It is the exquisite attention to detail: from gourmet cuisine to the intricacies of paddling on quiet waters propelled by kayak. He is an ACA instructor, has trained with Red Cross water safety and is a wilderness first responder. His calling is to use the quiet skills of his lifetime to benefit every traveler, to ensure his skills and knowledge are shared by every voyager with an open heart and a curious mind.

Assistant Leader:

Joe Gallelli is a lifelong outdoorsman, active Outings leader, and certified Wilderness First Responder who enjoys sharing has woodcraft skills, native orchid passion, conservation pursuits, wildlife knowledge, and Native American interests with others. He paddles, swims, wades, hikes, backpacks, rambles, and scrambles to be in wildland and wilderness settings. Joe keeps himself fit and is particularly well adapted to camping and paddling in the southeast USA aquatic and marine environments.

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