Nine-Mile Pond Canoe Trail – Everglades National Park
A trip to Everglades cannot be marked as complete without a canoe trip. Out of the few canoe excursions we enjoyed during our visit, our favorite was the 9 mile pond ride.
What made this trail interesting was that the waterway took us away from the crowds and immersed us in true wilderness. It’s a far outcry from the dinner cruises.
Nine Mile Pond was about 25 miles down the main park road from the entrance, and a few miles on the left after the Paurotis Pond turnoff. We first drove to Flamingo Visitor’s Center’s, paid for the rental, then drove back to the ‘trailhead’ where dozens of canoes are stacked up near the pond. We arrived early and was able to snatch up the 1st canoe.
There were two alligators next to where we put off the canoe. I didn’t see the gators and almost stepped on them so be very careful about your surroundings. We marked our coordinates and paddled straight into the marshes. There was a faint marker (made up of white plastic tube) on the other side of the pond, this turned out to be the trails entrance and the beginning of our adenture.
The trail was easy to navigate as long as the plastic poles are standing. There were some shallow sections where the canoe’s bottom scraped the muddy bottom and overall we were lucky not to get stuck since the water level was relatively low when we visited.
The paddle was beautiful and tranquil. The water was crystal clear with gar fish darting back and forth. We only encountered 3 other boats during our 5 hour excursion.
The reason I said it was an excursion is because we got lost a number of times. If it wasn’t for the sporadic waypoints I marked on the GPS, we would’ve paddled all the way to the keys. At one point, some of the poles were knocked down so we found ourselves navigating between a couple of islands full of alligators. Mary was clearly concerns as we made a haste escape by ‘paddle whacking’ through the marshes. Overall, this was a great trip to see alligators, birds, turtles, and other wildlife.
Tips: use a GPS. Carry enough water! It was hot even in December.
Distance: ~5 miles (or more if you get lost)
Elevation: 0 ft
Gain/Loss: 0 ft
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (depending how far you intent to paddle)
Rating: 8 out of 10