This section of Biscayne Bay is mainly covered by shallow grass flats inhabited by bonefish, small sharks and barracuda. The area between the shore and Chicken Key used to be a biological desert due to warm water effluent from the power plant, but has recovered quite nicely since they shut it down. Small sharks cruise the mangrove shorelines, especially around the island. Deering Estate was one of the homes of Charles Deering, Chairman of International Harvester Co (and half brother of James Deering, who built Vizcaya). You can stop for a tour of the estate as well (but not by boat). The C-100 canal spillway at 173rd St is also known as Snowden's dam.
Directions: Take I-95 south until it ends, then US-1 to Lejune Rd. Head south (left) to Cocoplum circle, then take Old Cutler down to SW 173rd St where there is a big dirt/gravel parking area. One can also take 826 south to US1, keep going south past the Falls to 152 St, then turn east (left) to Old Cutler and then turn right. Anybody who lives south of Kendall Dr. probably knows where it is anyway. The parking lot for the Deering Estate is off 164th St, but it is about a 200 yard portage (i.e. you need a kayak cart) from the parking lot to the canoe ramp, mainly paved.
Put-in/Take-out: The lot at 173rd St is the easiest put-in spot. This was recently upgraded and reopened about 6/1/2010. There is now a paved parking lot, a cement ramp and DRAINAGE. No parking fee here or at the Deering Estate. The Deering Estate lot will be more secure. At the Deering estate there is a little concrete dock for launching, which is less than ideal but can be done.
Route: Head north and look at the Deering Estate, then aim for Chicken Key. There is and artificial deep channel built by the Deerings that comes strait out from the estate- useful at low tide. If you keep going north to the Chapman Field area there are some trails through the mangroves. There is a boat channel coming out of Deering Bay and passing just north of the key. There is a large grass flat south and west of Chicken Key which cannot be crossed at low tide, even in a kayak. Past Chapman Field and just before you get to some houses there is a mangrove trail leading to Hidden Lake (under the "700").
New Hidden Lake launch: Just north of the USDA research station on Old Cutler (about even with SW 136th St) turn east onto SW Guadalajara St. Go straight, don't turn right on Deering Bay Dr. Go past the baseball field at Chapman Field, down a dirt road, and about 1/3 mile farther is a parking lot. You will see a ridiculously grand waste of taxpayer dollars to make this beautiful ramp where sand and gravel would have sufficed. Launch into a small channel, head east and go under the bridge, keep going another 1/4 mile and Hidden Lake should become unhidden. See map below.
Wildlife: Fish, birds, little sharks and rays.
Click on map for interactive link to Mapquest
New and improved drop off area by Snowden's dam. After unloading park in the parking spaces.
New boat ramp at Snowden's dam.
Launch at Hidden Lake. Take Old Cutler Road to SW Guadalajara. After you pass the baseball fields this becomes a dirt road. Park on the parking lot and take the kayak across the road, through the ostentatious stonework to the launch ramp. Paddle east, take a left under the bridge, then a right, and you will come out by the yellow arrow on the south side. You can paddle north to the north exit or portage over the road to the creek on the south. Note: the creek opening to the bay on the south is impassable at dead low tide.
Maps from Mapquest.com
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