This is Segment 13, Region F. Welcome to Florida's Ten Thousand Islands and Rookery Bay. It's a watery maze of mangrove keys where Calusa Indians once dug canals and Seminoles and outlaws sought refuge. Men once eked out a living here by hunting alligators and making moonshine. It's the perfect place to escape from it all.
The romantic sounding Lovers Key State Park is an ideal place to begin this segment. You can paddle inside or outside the islands, depending on weather and preference. First stop is Wiggins Pass and Barefoot Beach.
From here, hug the Gulf shoreline heading south to Key Island, just past Naples. Marco Island has the last supermarket on this journey, so stock up for the long haul.
Next comes Cape Romano and Whitehorse Key, in the heart of the Ten Thousand Islands. Paddling the outside route makes for easier navigation.
After Whitehorse Key, you will soon enter Everglades National Park. From Whitehorse, it's 14 miles of islands, sawgrass, mangroves to Everglades City. Camping within the park requires a permit that you must get in person from the visitor's center in Everglades City.
Another popular paddling trail in this segment is the Blackwater/Royal Palm Hammock Trail. The remote trail follows tidally influenced creeks and shallow bays in Collier Seminole State Park. It is marked until it reaches a designated wilderness area, so good maps and a gps unit are necessary.
68 miles of circumnavigational trail
1 state designated interior trail
- Paddlers have the option of taking the Gulf side of the many islands in this area, making for easier navigation and shorter distances between campsites
- In windy or inclement weather paddlers should travel inside the islands through more sheltered bays and waterways
- Advanced reservations are recommended for motels and for campsites within Everglades National Park
- Navigation in this segment is challenging. NOAA charts and/or a Top Spot map are highly recommended in the Ten Island Islands
- Along the Blackwater/Royal Palm Hammock Trail, Palm Bay, Blackwater Bay, and Mud Bay are all potentially shallow depending on tide. Mud Bay may be impassable at low tide.
Primary Campsites & Distances Between on Circumnavigational Trail
- Lovers Key State Park to Lighthouse Inn or Vanderbilt Beach Resort, 10.5 miles
- Lighthouse Inn or Vanderbilt Beach Resort to Cannon Island, 19.5 miles
- Cannon Island to Cape Romano, 11.5 miles
- Cape Romano to Whitehorse Key, 7.5 miles
- Whitehorse Key to Everglades City, 14 miles
- Blackwater/Royal Palm Hammock (13 miles)
- Police, Fire and Medical Emergencies: 911
- Collier County Sheriff: 239-774-4434
- Everglades National Park Search and Rescue: 305-247-7272
- Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Hotline: 1-888-404-3922
External Site Links