Biscayne National Park Highpoint Trip Report

two unnamed points (9 feet)

Date: October 5, 2013
Author: Fred Lobdell

participants include Steve Mueller, Mark Mueller, and Larry Manfredi

Steve, Mark and I were met by Larry at the Best Western in Florida City. Larry was our guide and provider of transportation. The boat was to depart from Hometead Baymont Park and not from any of the National Park property. We drove the 10 miles or so from Florida City to the municipal park in Larry's vehicle.

At the park entracnce we were handed a half sheet of paper with information about park closures. It said that Adams Key, Elliott Key, and Boca Chita Key (these are the three islands with facilities for visitors) were closed to the public. No mention was made of any other islands, so we naturally assumed that they were open and accessible. The paper also informed us that the Park waters (about 90% of the Park is water) were open to boating.

Larry had reconnoitered the area on the north side of Totten Key a few days earlier and found a "notch" where we could get our boat through most of the mangrove swamp on the north side. We went ashore with just a small amount of wading through water that was mid-calf deep, near where the topographic map shows "Ruins". In fact, we found what looked like a concrete footing in that area. Larry led most of the way, GPS unit in hand, to an area that appeared to be about the highest ground. I thought that the ground sloped down very subtly in all directions from that point. As is common in the woods (we were in sub-tropical jungle) the ground was highest at the base of several trees, and I especially liked the base of one very large tree. This may have been the one mentioned in a trip report posted on Peakbagger.

For the area on Old Rhodes Key we went around to the east side of that island and entered Old Rhodes Channel, finding the spot where the hardwood hammock came down to the water's edge. Here we were able to get ashore with doing any wading. In the area of what the GPS unit said was the high spot there were many trees with red paint on them and some string marking off some areas. Apparently there is some sort of research project being done here. This was a shorter and easier bushwhack than the one on Totten Key.

I thank Ron Tagliapietra for his excellent and very helpful trip report. He did, however, seem to be a bit optimistic about the distance for the Totten Key bushwhack. I would make it at least a three-quarter mile round trip, and more considering the necessity of going around various vegetation obstacles. You should probably allow 45 minutes or so for Totten Key, and 15 to 20 minutes for Old Rhodes Key.