Biscayne National Park Highpoint Trip Report

two unnamed points (9 ft)

Date: March 12, 2006
Author: Ron Tagliapietra

Dave and Beckie Covill, Nathan Chancy, and I rented a motorboat at Matheson Hammock SP. Dave passed the motorboat driver's test for Florida; he was awesome as always. Priorities were the highpoints, so we visited the two highpoint candidates for the park first.

Dave drove the boat up the Biscayne Bay side past Elliott Key to the south edge of the national park. We followed the park boundary near Swan Key to the Atlantic side of the keys, where we saw several boats stranded on shoals or reefs. We headed for the easternmost point of land, part of Old Rhodes Key. As we neared it, we saw the channel between Swan and Old Rhodes Keys and entered. Just before the channel widens to the west, we found a spot where the higher ground on Old Rhodes Key touches the channel. We tied up the boat to mangroves and splashed a few steps before gaining the high ground. After the initial trash area, a manway with ribbons brought us to the highpoint on a quarter mile roundtrip.

Returning to the Atlantic side of the keys, we boated up the east side of Old Rhodes Key and crossed toward the bay side south of Elliott Key. After a short stop at the visitor center on Adams Key, we passed between Rubicon and Reid Keys and reached the northernmost tip of Totten Key using a very narrow channel. Dave got us in despite the glare from the westerly sun. The mangrove area was silty and muddy, but required only a few steps. Once on land, we hiked about a half mile roundtrip. There were occasional ribbons, but we eventually lost them. We did not find the stake near the highpoint, but we did find an old rusty tractor on the way out.

We camped at the campground on Elliott Key. Camping near the boat docks reduced mosquito problems to zero, since it was more open there. We also saw a sting ray as we boated, lobsters from the shore, and another sting ray from the docks at dusk. In the morning we snorkeled right off the end of the northernmost dock with lobsters, parrotfish, grunts, and many other fish.

From the lighthouse on Boca Chita Key, we could see the beautiful colors of the reef and a manta ray! As we motored home, we visited Stiltsville, houses on stilts in the ocean!