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Updated: 12/18/2015

Halfway Creek... Big Cypress to The Everglades

Halfway Creek Paddling Trail runs for 7.3 miles from the Big Cypress Welcome Center on US41 to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City. A separate loop adds 3.7 miles. A portion of the trail goes through narrow mangrove tunnels that require some dexterity to navigate, bring a short paddle or one that can be broken down. Trail markers ("HC" and "L") along both the main trail and loop are a benefit as it would be easy to get lost in the mangrove, trail maps are available from the outfitter or at the Welcome Center. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 7.3 miles from Big Cypress Welcome Center to Gulf Coast Visitor Center; 3.7 miles Halfway Creek Loop
Location: Collier County
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Big Cypress Welcome Center, Everglades Gulf Coast Visitor Center (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Gulf Coast Visitor Center, Everglades City (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Big Cypress National Preserve, The Everglades

Launching from Sea Grape Drive at the Big Cypress Welcome Center on US41, the paddling trail starts along a manmade canal and is wide until the HC3 marker where the loop trail connects (it connects back at HC7). At HC6, the trail enters the mangrove and is narrow and twisting. When it emerges from the mangrove, it become wide again and passes a residential area on Plantation Island. The creek opens onto Chocoloskee Bay, go under the bridge and bear right to the Everglades Gulf Coast Visitor Center.

To paddle the entire trail, using an outfitter is a good idea - drop off at Big Cypress and return to Gulf Coast. This trip is better taken November-April, the bugs and heat can be more oppressive at other times (though bug-magnet Bobcat can say with some authority that on a hot mid-December day and even doused in bug spray there were more than enough mosquitoes to go around!). Airboats might be heard and sometimes seen, powerboats will be encountered at Plantation Island to Chokoloskee Bay.

Paddling at Halfway Creek
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
We used the Everglades Adventures outfitter at the Ivey House (a great place to stay) to drop off at Big Cypress Welcome Center and paddled to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center along the main trail - we did not paddle on the loop trail. The mangrove tunnels don't seem to have been cut back recently (compared to a trip we made several years ago), it was a challenging trip with obstacles in the water and we would not recommend this to novice paddlers.
Paddling Trail on Halfway Creek
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Parking at Sea Grape Drive Launch at Sea Grape Drive Leaving the launch Along the canal First trail marker, onto Halfway Creek
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On Halfway Creek, creek is wide in this section
and passes through some small lakes
Many air plants (bromeliads)
are seen
At HC6, trail narrows approaching mangrove tunnels
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In the mangrove tunnel Homes at
Plantation Island
End of creek, onto Chokoloskee Bay
Paddling Trail on Chokoloskee Bay
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Toward the
bridge (go under)
On Chokoloskee Bay Approaching Gulf Coast Visitor Center Launch at Gulf Coast Visitor Center
Loop Trail
The Loop Trail links onto the main trail at HC3 and HC7 - wide at the HC3 end
and narrow through mangrove tunnels at the HC7 end
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Entrance to Loop Trail at HC3 Loop Trail at HC3 Fishing on the
 Loop Trail
Leaving loop onto trail at HC3 Onto Loop Trail at HC7
Seen along the Trail
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Alligator sunning Pelican Heron Roseate spoonbill Spiders!
We knew we'd be
in a mangrove tunnel, but also a spiderweb canopy

See more paddling trips in The Everglades

Also visit us here: Bicycling in The Everglades

More information on paddling at Big Cypress (opens in a new window):

- National Park Service - Paddling at Big Cypress
- National Park Service - Gulf Coast Paddling Guide

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
The Everglades - Halfway Creek

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Everglades Adventures at the Ivey House


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