Ascent of Turtle Mound on 2013-12-22

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser
Date:Sunday, December 22, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Turtle Mound
    Elevation:30 ft / 9 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is the highest point in this "National Park" but is not a natural feature. I have taken this information from the Volusia County Historic web site

You will note by your personal visit that this site is clearly taller than 32 feet. I estimated 45 to 50 feet above sea level. The site below confirms that the mound is over 50 feet and the tallest shell midden in the nation!

From the site
Turtle Mound
Located in the Canaveral National Seashore.

Turtle Mound is the highest shell midden in the nation. This two-acre site contains over 35,000 cubic yards of oyster shell, extends more than six hundred feet along the Indian River shoreline, and stands about fifty feet tall. (In prehistoric times, it was at least seventy-five feet high.) Visible for miles offshore, the mound has been used as a navigational landmark since the early days of Spanish exploration.

In 1605, Spanish explorer Alvaro Mexia visited the site, called Surruque, and reported natives launching their dugout canoes at the mound's base. Over the years, this huge feature began to take the form of a turtle--hence its name.

Today, the National Park Service offers a fun and educational boardwalk to the top of Turtle Mound, with interpretive signs along the way. From the peak, visitors can see the great estuaries used by native people during the late-St. Johns period. The panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Merritt Island, the Indian River, and Mosquito Lagoon is spectacular, and one which was surely enjoyed by the prehistoric inhabitants of the area.

Karen and I made this a real hike and did not park at the boardwalk parking lot. Instead we walked the beaches of the south side of the national park first to enjoy the primitive ecologically significant shores full of shore birds. It was an enjoyable walk but warning to anyone not familiar with the area and offended by nudity - it appears that the south beaches of the national park is the local place for sunbathing and walking the beaches without suits. We then drove back towards the entrance and parked at another parking lot and found a trail from the ocean to the Mosquito lagoon and checked out a small shell midden about 16 to 20 feet high before hiking to the last parking area up the road to the TH to the Turtle Mound and enjoying that pleasant hike up the boardwalk and the outstanding views.

Since the elevation of this point has been entered at 32 feet instead of 50, additional gain to reconcile.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:70 ft / 21 m
    Extra Gain:20 ft / 6 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Route:meandered from back parking area across island and
    Trailhead:Atlantic Ocean  
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
perfect winter day 65F !!!

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