Located in Coral Gables, FL, Matheson Hammock offers a pleasant eco-tour and access to Biscayne Bay. There is actually enough of a flow of fresh water from nearby Snapper Creek that the mangrove area is still a true estuary. There are mangrove trails and bonefish flats. You can try fishing for snook near Snapper Creek or try for trout farther out over the grassbeds.
Directions: From the north, take US-1 to LeJeune road south. At Cocoplum circle continue south on Old Cutler a few miles until you get to Matheson Hammock and turn left. From the west take Sunset Blvd east to Cocoplum Circle, then Old Cutler south. From the south- you guys know how to get there.
After the entrance fee booth, bear to the right, go over the bridge, past the marina and keep going to the cul-de-sac at the end of the road.
Entrance fee/parking: $4 to get in. Park on the grass.
Facilities: None at the wading beach. At the swimming lagoon there is a food concession, bathrooms and fresh water showers. Sailboat lessons are available.
Put-in/Take-out: Sand/gravel/seaweed beach (depends on wind and tide). If you want to head north to Gables Estates you can put in from the parking lot by the swim lagoon, but you have to carry the kayak over some rocks.
Route: Head south about 200 yards until you see a wooden memorial cross- this marks the entrance to the mangrove trails. If you keep going south you get to Sanpper creek and beyond that is a little more development, then more mangroves as you get to the Chapman Field area.
Wildlife: Surprisingly varied. Near the park entrance there is a freshwater lake with iguanas, alligators and land crabs. I've seen an otter and a yellow rat snake in the mangrove trails. The usual ibis, herons, egrets, ospreys live here, often in large numbers on the flats at low tide. Rays are common on the grassbeds.
Put-in is in pink, the cross marks the entrance to the trails.
Maps from Mapquest.com
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