CREW Trust Members-only registration is September 1st-8th
Non-Members may register starting September 8th
CREW Trust Members-only registration is September 1st-8th
Non-Members may register starting September 8th
by Allison Vincent, CREW Trust Communications Director
Geocaching is an any day, anytime adventure that can take you to amazing and beautiful places or even just to a place in your town that you’ve never been before! That’s the introductory hook of the “What is Geocaching?” video on the Geocaching website, Geocaching.com, that captures the excitement and universal enjoyment of Geocaching adventures. The caches at CREW fit neatly into the “amazing and beautiful places” category with 122 active caches!
What is Geocaching you might ask! Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices to locate your geocache. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. These containers vary greatly in size and appearance. In the field you will see everything from large, metal cases, a fake stump with a hidden compartment, to a coconut with a film canister sized hole drilled out. First thing you need to do is get a general idea of the cache’s size from the cache page then narrow down your search with the location point. When you arrive at your coordinates, put down your GPS device and look around for the cache. Think to yourself, if I were to hide a cache, where would I put it?
Many individuals, families and friends start Geocaching because they like to get out in nature and experience places they would never have seen before with a purpose in mind. Geocaching brings that extra layer of motivation that gets all ages out the door exploring. Often Geocaching includes solving puzzles, searching for clues and answering riddles that challenge you to see your environment in a new way. When you go Geocaching get ready to challenge yourself in a mental exercise, in addition to a physical one! It’s literally active problem solving! Geocaching also lends itself to seeing a place like a local, often embracing insider knowledge of an unknown area. So, get out there, visit new spots like a local and discover incredible places like the CREW trails through fresh eyes!
In 2004, I was working as an environmental educator for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. I had befriended a man on one of my programs who was an avid hiker and was looking to go on a 4-mile excursion to a half-frozen waterfall. He needed someone to accompany him for safety reasons and so I volunteered. During the 2-mile trek up to the falls he revealed his primary purpose for the hike, but I was sworn to secrecy. I was a bit concerned he was going to push me over the falls, but he turned out to be an active geocacher in the early years of the sport. Here we were, only four years after Geocaching was invented, creating one of only a few thousand geocaches hidden around the world! It’s named “between a rock and a hard place” and was placed in 2001 – just a year after geocaching started and it’s still active! While the idea of finding a hidden container in the woods and logbook to write of your adventure was intriguing, the most important thing to me was that it brought me to this place – Lye Brook Falls and I have this story to retell. It set me off on thousands of adventures in the US, Canada and Ecuador, everyone with their own story!
Go to events! You’ll meet interesting, weird, goofy, fun, adventurous people and that leads to crazy new adventures too. I’ve met some of my best friends through geocaching including Milla and Dick (Nolehawks) who are like surrogate grandparents to my kids. I would also say enjoy “the numbers”, the statistics that you accumulate over time, but appreciate the experience (good and bad) that comes from finding these hidden treasures.
During Hurricane Irma we evacuated to Pikeville, Tennessee where my family lives. They brought us out to Fall Creek Falls State Park which has spectacular waterfalls and scenic views along a mountain ridge. There are a few caches in the park, but Piney Creek Falls was my favorite and probably the most dangerous one I have found. I had to cross a swinging bridge that traversed a small chasm. From there my 7-year-old son and I descended to the river, made our way across cold, wet rocks and then removed our socks and shoes so we could make it the rest of the way across the river. Once we had our socks and shoes back on, we climbed 20 feet up a cliff landing where my son sat with my camera taking pictures of me as I climbed another 20 feet straight up above the river to find a cache that was tucked into a rock ledge. It was quite the adrenaline rush and fortunately my son didn’t have to record me plummeting to my death on my birthday while retrieving a cache.
I use my iPad and iPhone which is limited by cell service and battery life. I bring backup charging bricks to keep them charged for long excursions. Tweezers are good to retrieve paper logs that get stuck in the container and replacement paper and plastic baggies are helpful to maintain caches that need some love.
The poison ivy! The green briars! The rattlesnakes! I absolutely love the CREW Marsh trails, the CREW Cypress Dome trails and the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trails. We have had so much fun placing over 400 caches over the last 13 years. We can’t wait to put caches out on the CREW Flint Pen Trails! The thing that I love about these trails is I can hike for miles in solitude and each location has its own unique beauty. I love the dew-covered spider webs in the morning, the Zebra Longwings roosting before sunrise, the cypress dome at sunset. I could go on and on but the great thing about the caches of CREW is that it’s an introduction for many people to one of the least known and most beautiful places in Southwest Florida. Once people have visited and found a few caches they want to keep going and explore every nook and cranny including the Wild Coffee Trail, the Pop Ash Trail and even the service roads! I’ve seen bears, painted buntings, armadillos and so much more on those service roads and yes rattlesnakes and poison ivy.
Attending events is a great way to meet new people who share the same interest in geocaching. It brings together people that might not ordinarily meet and most importantly it brings everyone together to explore! This might be the first time that someone visits the CREW trails, or they may have been out to every event we’ve done since 2009. Either way we are all in good company!
The very first Geocaching Event was held at CREW on 5/9/2009
12 Events have been held (4 at the CREW Marsh trails, 6 at the CREW Cypress Dome trails, 2 at the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail) and one was cancelled due to COVID.
As of Saturday 4/24/21 there will have been
290 Traditional Caches
59 Mystery Caches
21 Letterbox Caches
12 Event Caches
10 Multi Caches
7 Wherigo Caches
As of Saturday 4/24/21 there will be 122 active geocache
CREW Cypress Dome Trails – 36
CREW Marsh Trails – 41
CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trails – 45
Blue Diamonds – Roger Terrel
FLPirate – Roger Primus
JunglePete – Pete Corradino
Junglito – Theo Corradino
Ecuadorable – MaLe Corradino
Lehigh Mafia – Rob & Staci Johnson
Matkat* – Gary Mangan
Nolehawks – Milla and Dick Voellinger
Pilot searcher – Brian Wylie
rbmotmot – Tim Hall
sandbetweenmytoes – Kris Slagle
Team Crime Scene – Kenny Jenkins
The Wench – Jean Primus
April 3, 2020
As part of ongoing efforts to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 and protect public safety, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will temporarily close the all CREW trails, effective at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
Closure includes Bird Rookery Swamp, Flint Pen Strand, Cypress Dome and CREW Marsh trails.
The District follows the lead of local governments that have issued Safer at Home orders in their communities and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health.
Read the official post from South Florida Water Management District blog: https://www.sfwmd.gov/news/sfwmd-temporarily-closing-crew-lands-southwest-florida-reduce-potential-spread-covid-19
At last week’s family fun day, two of our volunteers taught my children how to geocache. We decided Spring Break was the perfect time to hit the trails and get a little lost in the woods. Thinking of doing some geocaching of your own, maybe with kids or grand kids? I’ve got a few suggestions that might make your trip go more smoothly.
6. Bring water and snacks. A stack of graham crackers can be a lifesaver after you spend twenty minutes off-trail and end up on a service road (that you could have taken the whole time).
7. Be ready to get lost. Not really lost, just enough that the children start to doubt that you actually know what you are doing. My favorite memory of our first geocaching trip was the kids complaining about how certain they were that we were lost. I may have accidentally taken us very far off course but the end was worth it. The cache was in the middle of a beautiful cypress dome and I’d like to think they were thankful (but see tip #6 about why you should bring snacks).
8. Have fun. We identified wildflowers along the way, spotted a lot of lubbers on one section of the trail and definitely learned what poison ivy looked like (and tried to avoid it). Even the complaining was fun mainly because it made me laugh.
So, how much fun did we have? The kids asked to go again. And no one got poison ivy.
Interested in learning how to geocache? Come to the Cypress Dome Trails on April 22 and learn how to geocache. For more information, visit eventbrite.com.
Go Geocaching! at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails
Saturday, November 14, 2015 from 9:00 to 2:00
Join The Unusual Suspects – our local geocaching heroes—Milla Voellinger, Pete Corradino and others for a great day of geocaching at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails. They will give introductory lessons to newbies, send experienced cachers out with new cachers, or simply get you started and send you out on your own if you’d like. Whatever your pleasure, these geocaching heroes can help you learn to love this high-tech treasure hunting the woods.
Geocaching has many benefits both physical and social to find out more visit: http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/learn-about-the-benefits-of-geocaching
Bring your own GPS unit and cables or your smartphone with the geocaching app loaded and be ready for some fun. We have a limited number of GPS units to loan out.
If you have experience, be sure to go to http://www.geocaching.com and download the CREW caches before you arrive to save some time.
Bring your lunch and stay for a picnic and to visit with other geocachers afterwards.
Please pre-register so we can plan for the numbers: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/go-geocaching-at-the-crew-cypress-dome-trails-tickets-18247100569
Q: What should people do if they see a black bear on one of the trails?
A: Florida Black Bears are the only bear species that inhabit Florida. Safety tips are different with different species of bears due to their varying life histories. The following safety tips refer to black bears and not necessarily brown bears, Grizzly bears, or other bear species.
Think of a black bear as a large, stray dog in your neighborhood. Precautions you’d take with a stray dog apply to black bears too. Don’t make direct eye contact (a threat gesture), don’t run, and don’t turn your back to it.
First, make some noise (clapping hands, bell, whistle) so the bear knows that you are there. Surprising any wild animal is not a good thing.
Stand tall and make yourself look larger by raising your hands above your head. Adults should pick up and hold small children.
Then, back away slowly and get a safe distance away from the black bear. Just like dogs, black bears have a chase instinct and will go after something running from them even if they do not mean any harm. Once you are at a safe distance, you can snap a few photos and enjoy the moment.
Black bears in the wild are shy animals and generally not aggressive towards people. Exceptions would be a black bear that is strongly food conditioned and smells any food you are carrying, and a female black bear who is protecting her cubs. If you see a small cub seemingly by itself, back off immediately. The mother black bear is somewhere very close, and she is watching her cub and she is watching you.
A black bear is a large, powerful, wild animal. It pays to be cautious and to not provoke it, so know a little about black bear behavior before meeting one.
If a black bear stands on its hind legs, it’s not a threat; it just wants to get a better look and smell of the situation.
However, stamping its front legs, jaw popping (snapping its jaws together to make a popping noise), huffing (blowing air out of its nose and mouth quickly), or bluff charging (rushing toward a person but stopping before physically making contact) means it is nervous, and you need to back away from the black bear. Allow the black bear plenty of room to escape, which is all it really wants to do.
If a black bear does approach you and attack, hold your ground and fight back.
If camping at CREW, never store food or any heavily scented items (toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) in your tent. Always store it in a hard topped vehicle, hung from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 5 feet away from trees, or in a bear proof container that can be purchased at an outdoor recreation store. Food coolers are not bear proof containers. Click here to camp at CREW.
By: Dick Brewer
Saturday, December 13, 2014 will be a geocaching day with a twist at the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trails near Naples. Ten tokens will be hidden in ten of the 35+ caches on the preserve. Find a token and return it to the CREW Geocache Day leaders for a $15 general admission ticket to the 2015 CREW Concert on March 21st, 2015. Limit – 1 ticket per person.
Come out to the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp for this special CREW Concert Cache Day and enjoy one of the most wild and scenic landscapes in south Florida. The event starts at 9 AM with an introduction to the CREW followed by JunglePete’s famous geocacher icebreaker and instructions on how to use GPS units (if necessary). There are 35+ caches, plus new ones to be discovered. Bring plenty of food and water and wear appropriate hiking attire.
Required equipment is a GPS unit or a smartphone with the geocaching app. The event details and cache coordinates are available on the geocaching.com website at http://coord.info/GC5G33K. You can register there or on Eventbrite.
The March 21st CREW Concert and Silent Eco-Auction, featuring the Sarah Hadeka Band and The Juice, is the CREW Trust’s largest annual fundraising event.
The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail officially opened in July 2011. The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail offers 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, including a 1500-ft. boardwalk with wheelchair accessibility. A 1/4-mile crushed shell path leads to a 1500-ft. boardwalk, then the trails become ground level, sandy/grassy, relatively flat berms with swamp on both sides. The trails are actually old tram roads used when the area was logged many years ago. Biking can be a challenge on the grassy/sandy trails, but quite rewarding. The maple-cypress swamp is home to alligators, otters, Florida panthers, bobcats, white-tailed deer and more. There is one portable toilet at the beginning of the boardwalk and several benches along the trail within the first 1.5 miles. Beyond that there are no structures.
Birders will delight in the abundance of songbirds that frequent the cypress trees along the boardwalk, as well as the many raptors and wading birds found along the trails. Barred owls are common and swallow-tailed kites frequent the area in summer.
The walking of dogs along this trail is not recommended.
From Fort Myers/Naples: From I-75, take exit 111 and turn east (away from Naples) on Immokalee Road (CR 846). Travel 11.4 miles and turn left onto Shady Hollow Blvd. (One mile past the Oil Well Rd stoplight – Shady Hollow is where Immokalee Rd goes from 4-lane to 2-lane). Go to the end of Shady Hollow (approx 2.4 miles). Parking lot is on the right.
From Immokalee: Travel west (toward Naples) on CR 846 (Immokalee Road) for approx. 16.5 miles. Turn right on Shady Hollow Blvd. Travel 2.4 miles north to parking area/gate.
Google Map to Bird Rookery Swamp Trails: http://goo.gl/maps/9tSNd
Go back to the Visit CREW page.
10 Ways to Enjoy the CREW Trails This Summer
Summer is approaching and our schedule of events is empty. The CREW Trust has had a fabulous fall/winter season at CREW this year with the help of our project partners, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) staff who owns and manages the CREW lands, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologist who monitors wildlife and habitat at CREW, and our fabulous volunteers and FGCU interns who assist with guided walks, trail maintenance, exotics removal, and many other tasks.
Since October 1st, 2012 over 6000 people participated in our guided hikes, strolling science seminars, school field trips, and special programs for CREW Trust members and the public. Thousands more explored the CREW trails on their own and have connected with the watershed in many ways.
But don’t stay away from CREW just because we don’t have many organized summer programs planned. Come on out and enjoy CREW in a whole new way on your own. Summer is a time for the CREW trails to rest. With fewer footprints along the paths, grass grows taller, wildlife ventures out, and of course – with the arrival of summer storms – the water levels rise. By October, the marsh and swamps of CREW will be wet and green and teeming with animal activity. Summer is truly the most amazing time of year to experience CREW.
So, put on your old sneakers and long pants, sunscreen and bug spray, and try one or more of these suggestions to enjoy CREW on your own this summer:
2. Take a Run – running the CREW trails is a lot more interesting than pounding the pavement or hitting the treadmill at the gym. Research shows that running outdoors gives you more exercise due to varied elevation and wind resistance, too. Plus, fresh air and proximity to trees heals and refreshes. Check out the Caloosa Trailheads Facebook page to connect with like-minded folks or find a running buddy, then come run a mile or two or ten at CREW.
3. Track an Animal – hit the trail with one purpose: to track a critter. Summer means rain and softer ground, so tracks are more easily found along the trails. Challenge yourself to locate and identify five new animal tracks this summer. Grab a track field guide or app, a tape measure and a friend, then see what you can learn about animals that come out to play at CREW during the summer.
4. Just Sit There – 99% of the time people come to CREW walk, run or bike the trails. Rarely do people go to one spot and sit still. Yet 100% of the time, if you sit still in one place for more than 10 minutes you will see, hear, and experience more critters than in three hours of hiking. So, pick a trail, find a spot, and just sit there. Watch the magic happen.
5. Spend the Night – CREW has two primitive campsites that are free and available by Special Use License through the SFWMD at http://goo.gl/5wUfJ. If you’ve never been out at CREW at night, camping can give you a whole new perspective about the place. Practice “Leave No Trace” and enjoy the quiet serenity of CREW after dark.
6. Engage Your Senses – most folks walk and look when hiking the CREW Trails. Next time you go, take advantage of the summer humidity and focus attention on your sense of smell. Every animal and plant has a unique scent. Expand your sensory experience by listening and touching, too. Just be sure you can ID poison ivy first!
7. Take the Road Less Traveled – Do you take the same trail every time you come to CREW or have a favorite that you always share with friends and visitors. This summer, take a different trail or loop. Try the Pine Flatwoods Trail at the CREW Marsh or the White Loop/Wild Coffee Trail at the Cypress Dome Trails, or if you’re really ambitious (and well-prepared with water, food, and sun protection) try to get to the north or west tram at Bird Rookery Swamp. Head a new direction and see what surprises await you.
8. Awaken Your Sense of Wonder with a Child – Rachel Carson proclaimed “If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” So, take a child by the hand and explore CREW, experience bugs and birds, get dirty and wet, spend unstructured time playing in nature. You may be surprised at how much it helps you connect, too.
9. Get Your Cowboy/girl On – Adjacent to the CREW Cypress Dome Trails (and connected via the White Loop) are the Caracara Prairie Preserve Trails, owned by Conservation Collier and the CREW Land & Water Trust. These three miles of trails traverse an active cattle ranch. So, put on your cowboy hat and take a hike through oak hammocks, towering pines, and some beautiful wet prairie. Be prepared to get your feet wet crossing the ditch from the Dome Trails to the Caracara Trails (Oh, and no dogs allowed – to keep the cattle safe).
10. Catch a Sunrise/Sunset – all the CREW Trails are open to the public from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, so start your day right and head out to the Marsh Overlook early one morning this summer to watch the sun rise over the 5000-acre Corkscrew Marsh. Or, if you’re just not a morning person, try getting there just before dark to watch the sunset filtering through those billowing summer storm clouds. Either way, you’ll enrich your life and your spirit!
However you choose to experience CREW this summer, we’d love to hear from you! Share your adventures with us by posting pictures and comments on the CREW Land & Water Trust Facebook page or send us an email to let us know what you did that was new and exciting.
We’ll be publishing our fall/winter program schedule later this summer, so stay tuned…and have a wonderful time at CREW or wherever you spend your summer!
At the CREW trails as of 2021 there will have been…
290 Traditional Caches…
59 Mystery Caches…
21 Letterbox Caches…
12 Event Caches…
10 Multi Caches…
7 Wherigo Caches…
Altogether 122 active geocaches and specifically
36 at the CREW Cypress Dome trails…
41 at the CREW Marsh trails…
45 at the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trails!
Go to www.geocaching.com for more information on geocaching and to search for caches in the area. Caches sometimes change locations or get swapped out, so check that site often.
Thanks to all of the local geocachers, including The Unusual Suspects, for providing and maintaining the caches at CREW!
Getting Started with Geocaching (takes you to the geocaching.com website)
When: 2022 TBD
Join local geocachers for a fun and informative event at the CREW trails. Local experts, Milla and Pete, will be on hand to give tips and explain geocaching to new cachers. The day starts with a breakfast and meet-and-greet at 9 a.m. Bring your own GPS unit or smart phone; GPS units may be available to borrow on a limited basis.