Everglades National Park: Ten Thousand Islands Loop

Paddle to pocket beaches, tiny Gulf islands and wide inland channels on this 50-mile loop.
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Paddle to pocket beaches, tiny Gulf islands and wide inland channels on this 50-mile loop.

Share the wild coast with shorebirds and marine life on this 50-mile loop. Park at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, pick up permits, and file a trip plan (you should have intermediate paddling and navigation skills). Launch from the boat ramp and head southeast along the shore on a three-mile paddle to the town of Chokoloskee. Continue southeast 3.5 miles to Wilderness Waterway marker 127, then turn Gulfward to pick your way through the mangrove maze of Rabbit Key Pass. Go past the white-sand paradise of Turtle Key before the .3-mile crossing to Rabbit Key. Lunch on shellcovered shores before heading southeast for the 3.7-mile crossing to Pavilion Key’s long, sweeping beach. Make camp on the island’s northeastern side.

The next day, head southeast between two mangrove-covered islands, then it’s an 8.2-mile open ocean crossing to Mormon Key. Follow the shoreline to the mouth of the Chatham River, then snake up sandbar-lined waterways to the upland campsite at Watson Place. (Tip: Gather wood for a fire to ward off bugs.) Continue .6 mile up the river on day three and veer left at the major fork. Continue until the water opens into Last Huston Bay and the Wilderness Waterway. Paddle northwest, reaching Sunday Bay in 3.2 miles, then turn north to the Sunday Bay Chickee, an elevated tent platform (with outhouse!).

On the final day, head east-northeast to the Wilderness Waterway marker 125. Paddle across Cross Bay, Shoal Mud Bay, and Hurdles Creek, then head west to the Turner River and Chokoloskee. Take the canal for a lazy two-mile cruise toward Everglades City, then turn under the causeway bridge to reach the ranger station.

Permits: Reserve campsites 24 hours in advance (November-April). (239) 695-3311; nps.gov/ever
Gear Up: Rent kayaks, paddles, spray skirt, PFDs, and pumps from Saltwater Sports: (239) 262-6149; saltwatersportsflorida.com.
Water: Pack one gallon per person per day

-Mapped by Casey Lyons

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 80.0

Waypoints

WPT001

Location: 25.845762, -81.38709

Launch from the boat ramp and head southeast along the shoreline on 3-mile paddle to Chokoloskee. Continue southeast to Wilderness Waterway marker 127.

WPT002

Location: 25.78501, -81.338573

Turn southwest at Wilderness Waterway marker 127 to weave through Rabbit Key Pass.

WPT003

Location: 25.767175, -81.379638

Pass the mini paradise of Turtle Key and head south for 1.2-mile crossing to Rabbit Key.

WPT004

Location: 25.751478, -81.378168

Rabbit Key's sandy area is on the northeast side of the island. Continue south for 3.5 miles to Pavilion Key.

WPT005

Location: 25.708585, -81.350929

Camp on Pavilion Key's long sweeping beach, then head southeast for 4.4 miles to Mormon Key.

WPT006

Location: 25.671618, -81.289831

Land at the southern tip of Mormon Key, then paddle northeast to the island-dotted mouth of the Chatham River.

WPT007

Location: 25.695726, -81.272341

Head ENE around islands and over sandbars on the way to the Watson Place.

WPT008

Location: 25.709073, -81.245666

Dock your kayak and camp in the high ground of the Watson Place. Continue upstream, and head left at the fork.

WPT009

Location: 25.748794, -81.252712

Join the Wilderness Water Way in Last Huston Bay and continue NNW to Sunday Bay and then onto Sunday Bay Chickee.

WPT010

Location: 25.800535, -81.276629

Camp at this floating platform, then curve around the shorline, heading west to Wilderness Waterway Marker 125.

WPT011

Location: 25.802093, -81.293756

At marker 125 continue WNW through Cross Bay, Shoal Mud Bay, Hurdles Creek.

WPT012

Location: 25.831261, -81.335821

Turn WSW to join the Turner River which leads back to Chokoloskee.

WPT013

Location: 25.821449, -81.359081

Enter the causeway canal to the northeast of Chokoloskee and paddle WNW 3 miles to the causeway bridge.

WPT014

Location: 25.839295, -81.381483

Turn west under the causeway bridge, being mindful of currents. Then follow the shoreline to the ranger station.

WPT015

Location: 25.845723, -81.386975

Pull out at the NPS dock.

Sunday Bay Chickee

Location: 25.800046, -81.27677

Campsite at the Watson Place

Location: 25.708904, -81.245291

Campsite at Rabbit Key

Location: 25.751478, -81.378227

Landing on Pavilion Key

Location: 25.708556, -81.35112

View towards the Gulf

Location: 25.695389, -81.275986