Current Trail Conditions (6/5/2023)

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp:

Culvert replacement projects are complete! The entire 12-mile loop has been freshly mowed. Enjoy the summer flowers such as scarlet hibiscus and last bit of dry trails before the rain rehydrates the swamp.

The entire 12-mile trail is clearly marked with letters to help you gauge your distances. The Purple trail connects CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail to the CREW Flint Pen Strand trails. The Purple trail distance is 3.1 miles to the main parking lot at CREW Flint Pen Strand starting from the intersection above point E. The Purple trail is currently dry, but is the first to rehydrate and last to dry down with the wet and dry seasons.

Be aware that alligators will warm themselves on the trail. Please do not attempt to force them to move when you pass.

CREW Marsh Trails:

Another installment of marsh restoration has began just beyond the marsh overlook tower. Machinery will be present on or near the trails. Fret not, as you’ll be able to witness the marsh bounce back in the next few weeks. Don’t forget to help us document these changes using the “Chronolog” photo monitoring stations along the trails!

Trails are dry with an occasional and avoidable puddle. The red loop will be the first to rehydrate as the rains become consistent. Summer flowers are abundant!

CREW Cypress Dome Trails:

The trails are dry! The wild coffee trail, or white trail, has a few downed trees and narrow path. This trail will rehydrate the quickest, so get out there before it floods (if you prefer dry trails)!

The 2023-2024 hunt season begins in the fall. Check HUNT DATES. Trails are open to everyone during hunting season, however, if you prefer a trail without hunting, try the CREW Marsh Trails around the corner on Corkscrew Rd.

CREW Flint Pen Strand Trails:

Trails are dry. The Purple trail connecting to CREW Bird Rookery Swamp has dry sugar sand, but will flood again soon. The Purple trail is the first to rehydrate and last to dry down with the wet and dry seasons.

The 2023-2024 hunt season begins in the fall. Seasonal hunting takes place north of CREW Flint Pen Strand trail systems away from the public hiking trails. Check HUNT DATES. Hunting is not allowed on the hiking trails nor outside of designated hunting seasons.

Please stay on the designated trails. The trails are narrow and winding with some sand and roots/rocks.

Trail distances are calculated from the Main parking lot. The Purple trail hike is 3.1 miles to CREW Bird Rookery Swamp and 3.1 miles back. If you choose to hike the “loop” of CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail, you will add 7.5 miles to your distance.

65 Replies to “Current Trail Conditions (6/5/2023)”

      1. Thanks for the response. I just happened to come across your site and was really excited about biking on the bird rookery trail. I definitely want to go on one of your swamp hikes at cypress dome and will check the site for further updates.

    1. When will the board walk open again. We are here for vacation and would be happy the fantastic wildlife again?!
      Greetings Yvonne

    1. The closure is due to a lot of factors. The main factor is for natural resource management. There is a lot of activity that goes on in CREW during the summer and with the high rainfall the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission thought it would be best for all to close the trail. It is not closed forever, it is just temporary and noting is wrong. CREW was preserved first for water, second for wildlife and third for people. We are just protecting all the important resources CREW has, and it will be back open for your enjoyment. Thank you for all the support.

  1. Wondering if there is any news on the trail opening. As one of the only distance hiking trails in the Naples locale, it has been a huge loss this summer to have the trail inaccessible for so long. The cryptic nature and lack of info on the closing seems very strange. Are there any updates at all?

    1. We are still assessing the closure, so currently there isn’t an update on the timeline yet. We promise it will not closed forever, it is just temporary and noting is wrong. CREW was preserved first for water, second for wildlife and third for people. We are just protecting all the important resources CREW has, and it will be back open for your enjoyment. You can always hike at the CREW Marsh Trails and Cypress Dome Trails, they are not one big loop but if you hike all the loops together they make close to 12 miles. Thank you for all the support.

  2. I have noticed lots of trespassing beyond the boardwalk. This time a family with small children. I would advise you make it a bit more evident that NO ONE is allowed beyond the boardwalk until it is open. With more tourists showing up people seem to be ignoring the signs. This is the third time I have witnessed this this month.

  3. It’s October 18th so I just thought I’d check to see how the Bird Rookery Swamp trail opening was progressing. Does it look like it will be open anytime soon? Thank you so much!

    1. Hello,

      This is an email update from one of our volunteers that is an avid biker of Bird Rookery Swamp:

      “Rode the whole trail today for the first time since BRS re-opened. Most of the trail is in really good condition for this time of year and experienced cyclists should be encouraged to enjoy the trail. As expected, a little soft and wet in some places. Like last year, water is flowing rapidly across the trail at approximately mile 9 in 4-5 places and the surrounding trail is overgrown because the mower can’t get in there. The water crossings are deep in spots, and even the shallower areas are 15-18” deep. Cyclists should wade and not attempt to ride these crossings because the bottom is not uniform with deeper holes and there is a variety of debris that is not immediately visible.”

  4. Is the trail on Corkscrew Rd open and accessible? I am looking to take a Boy Scout troop there on Saturday, November 19. Or will it be too muddy?

  5. Hiked the BRS about two weeks ago and it was as fantastic as ever. Really missed it this last summer. Saw two deer by mile 7, a doe and her juvenile fawn who was more afraid of me than mom, stomping and snorting. The trail is very wet at mile 9 for a good bit and quite uneven at some of the deeper crossings. And the big gator that habitually hangs by one of the deeper crossings was there, but very few other gators seen, maybe 4. Fun wading in there after seeing that big one! Definitely the best trail around.

  6. PLEASE DO NOT BRING YOUR DOGS TO BIRD ROOKERY SWAMP TRAIL!! I observed a mother Gator move toward a dog today but then retreat into the water. I have no idea why people after reading the four warning signs still brings dogs to this place. IT IS NOT SAFE FOR YOUR PETS!

  7. Hello, Can you please update us on how wet the trail is and if the grass has been cut? The muddiness index above doesn’t appear to be changing but it has bee quite dry. Thank you very much!

    1. Thanks Lisa! We updated it today; our poor people on the infograph were quite submerged compared to current trail conditions. We’re hearing that there are still a few wet spots at Bird Rookery Swamp, but most of the other trails are dry with only a bit of mud.

  8. We just hiked the full 12 miles today. Beautiful day, lots and lots of gators of all sizes! Around mile 9 was the only really wet area. Tried to jump one crossing, missed and got our shoes wet but that was all, the rest of the wet areas you can cross without a problem and assume it will just keep drying out. Great trail!!

  9. CREW Bird Rookery Swamp is our all time favorite Florida hike. We have been hiking the entire 12 mile loop a couple of times a winter for the past 2 or 3 years, since we discovered it. We are experienced hikers, having hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, as well as many other hikes around the U.S. We are always thrilled with the nature sightings at the Bird Rookery and usually count the gators – 161, 191, and 181 being our past counts and our all time record was 232 gators of every size along the 12 mile loop. We’ve seen otters, water moccasins, banded water snakes, turtles, lots of butterflies, many different species of wading birds and songbirds, white-tailed deer and more.

    This past week, Monday, January 9th, my husband and I and two of our hiking friends from back home in PA once again hiked the 12 mile loop and had a wonderful outing. The trail was almost completely dry, and I understand there has not been much rain in quite some time. Nine miles in, between marker # 6 and #3, in the home stretch, we came to a wide, fairly deep water crossing that has never been like that in the past when we have been here. There obviously was some major erosion after a flooding event since we had hiked it last year and the water was steadily flowing from one side of the trail to the other side. A few narrow logs had been set in different places across the waterway very precariously – I think by hikers, not trail maintainers – in order to get across and not get wet feet.

    One of our hikers made it across on the higher of the logs in good order. The second hiker slipped and got one boot wet and muddy, but got across. I am sorry to say, I was not so lucky. None of the log crossings looked like a good option, but I followed the path the first two hikers took and immediately realized it did not feel safe to me, so decided to back off it and find another route across. Somehow my foot slipped, I lost my balance and fell stomach first right into the deepest part of the water – probably close to 18″ deep and got totally soaked and muddy up to my neck. I broke my wrist bracing myself against the fall, as well as my smart phone which had been in my pants pocket because I had texted a gator photo earlier in the hike, and I also drowned my camera, which I carry in a holster in front of me. I hiked the remaining 3 miles out to our vehicles – wet, chilly, partially in shock, knowing there was something very wrong with my wrist. We spent the evening at the Urgent Care center and I am now wearing a brace for 4-6 weeks. The new phone and camera have been purchased. It was one very expensive hike.

    Falls occasionally happen when hiking, but if I had to do it again, I should have waded across and gotten soggy boots, or taken the low log, which looked muddy, slippery, and even skinnier than the high log.

    This deep water crossing looks to be a permanent feature of the trail now, similar to the area that stayed wet last year after the soggy January we experienced, where One-Eyed Ida used to lay. It does not look like a spot that is going to dry up. My question to you is – will you be creating some sort of safe crossing method for this area of the trail? I am not feeling the love about hiking across that water crossing again and will be disappointed if we can no longer hike the entire 12 mile loop, but end up having to make it an “in and out” hike in the future. We would miss some of the best parts of the rookery.

    We do really appreciate all of the volunteers who help and the work that goes into making this beautiful natural area available to the public. The new educational voice recordings this year were a very nice addition. Thank you.

    1. We are aware of the water and SFWMD is working on a long term solution that will preserve and protect the watershed and wildlife. Thank you for sharing your experience and we hope your wrist heals well. With each rainy season, the trails change, which it sounds like you have seen with your previous experience hiking near Ida’s spot. If you would like to discuss this further, please call our office at 239-657-2253. We do have trail use guidelines listed on our website ( with more information about what to expect on our three trail systems.

    2. Hi, That is so sad that you went through what you did. My husband and I hike the trail approximately every couple of weeks and yes, that one spot is like a Ringling Bros. cross the balance beam circus act to make it across the log. (Made it across the other day, missed and got wet the time before that)

      Totally agree that it would be great if CREW could arrange for a couple of larger logs to be put across that one spot until a permanent solution can be put into place. Completely understand that the watershed changes and we don’t want to do any long-term damage but it’s a tough crossing and it does seem to be something that’s more permanent than not as it’s been like that since the opening.

      That’s the only issue on the trail, which is an awesome hike and we appreciate all the great work CREW does!

  10. Lately. I have observed a woman fishing using nets at Bird Rookery Swamp filling her buckets full of fish. I have never seen this before in my fews years hiking the trail. Is this legal? I was under the assumption that nothing is allowed to taken out of the area not even fish. Her car was from out of state (New York) and she takes a lot of fish. Is this permitted? I hope not.



    1. FWC regulates hunting and fishing. Their warden noted that fishing is allowed on the property. The public has to follow state rules and regulations, and the person netting the fish must have a valid freshwater fishing license. Normally the species that are allowed for cast netting are exotic, non-indigenous fish like armored catfish oscars, tilapia or mayan cichlids.

  11. March 15th, We were there this morning and a couple of people said there was an alligator who is “stuck” in between two cyprus knees and has been trying to get out for a while. It’s at approximately mile 2.6 on the left hand side. I took a picture but I can’t seem to post it. It looks like a smaller one (4-5ft) and does look like he cannot get out. 🙁

  12. The Flint Pen Strand trail is fantastic. When are the additional Flint Pen Strand trails going to start being made ? Are there opportunities to volunteer with that effort ?

    1. Trails will be mapped out over the next few years. If you are interested in volunteering, you can start the process by filling out an application, available under the volunteer section of our website.

  13. Hi I went there this morning 3/28. Your website says it’s open and updated as of today. Are you just closed for the weekend?

    1. We’re posting every evening and morning if the trails are open. Basically if we close, we will post that on the website and social media. If the latest post says the trails are open, go with that!

  14. Hello,

    I have been hiking the Flint Pen Strand trails almost daily for the last month and have been encountering dirt bikes & ATVs almost every time. What are the rules governing these vehicles?


    1. Trails are wet with all this rain. The water levels had recently gone down, but the water table must have been sitting just right below the surface, because much of the Cypress Dome trails, especially near the Cypress Dome itself, is right back at ankle deep!

  15. Is the Cypress Dome trail dry all the way around? I saw a YouTube video dated March 9, 2021 and the hikers were stopped on the Wild Coffee trail and had to turn back because of standing water. We are looking to hike tomorrow, April 9, 2021. Thanks.

    1. My apologies for the delayed response. I hope you made it out there to find out for yourself, but the Wild Coffee trail is completely dry now. That won’t last too long though, as that’s one of the first to fill up and last to dry down. However there’s plenty of dry hiking out at the CREW Cypress Dome trails that avoid the Wild Coffee trail. Check out the maps on the page. 🙂

      1. Yes, my son and I enjoyed a 9.5 mile hike all the way around Cypress Dome, including the dry and gorgeous Wild Coffee trail, then around the Caracara Prairie Preserve trail. Certainly one of the best treks in the area! Definitely an annual event.

  16. Does the Purple Trail connecting Flint Pen and Bird Rookery ever fully dry out for biking? Tried it today and it was still very wet, almost up to knees the further I went. Had to turn round.

  17. I had the same experience last week but turned around long before knee deep, lol. I am disappointed as still knee-deep would seem to be awhile before drying up. Since I discovered the Purple Trail last spring, I was on it several weekends in a row and it was completely dry each time. What a fantastic trail through changing bio-diversity. The morning dew on the Cypress tips glistening in the sun is prismatic. Since I live in Estero, accessing BRS has been much more convenient not to mention the Purple Trail features-an amazing and different experience every time on each. Flint Pen Strand is incredible in general. All the CREW trails are by far the best around, at least with any distance, with my favorites being Cypress Dome and Cara Cara outside of BRS & FPS. But they pale to BRS where I have seen bear, deer, otters, and raccoons + not to mention the amazing bird life and literally hundreds of gators seen EVERY time (and some can be huge blocking the trail). With the bridge out, you will want to go left at the beginning of the main loop as there seems to be more wildlife in that section.

  18. Can anyone tell me if the Crew Bird Rookery trails are flooded after last weekend’s big rains, or if they’re dry enough to easily walk again? It’s a bit of a drive for me to get there, and I don’t want to go all that way to just have to turn around and go home if the trails are all flooded.
    Thanks for any feedback.

    1. There’s always a chance of water on the trails, even in the driest part of the dry season, so always wear shoes that can get wet and bring a change for after. However, I am just posting today that the majority of the trail at CREW Bird Rookery Swamp will be closed for a construction project until further notice. So, I hope you get this notice. IF you read this too late, we have 3 other trail systems you can explore, check them out on our website under visit CREW.

      1. Is the Crew Bird Rookery Swamp trail open for walking, hiking? Is it worth the trip there because I am traveling from far. And can you share what other trails there are?

        1. Currently, CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is closed after the boardwalk. We update the website as changes occur. There are links on the website for all of our locations, including CREW Flint Pen Strand, CREW Cypress Dome and Marsh Trails. Enjoy!

  19. Thanks for your response, Allison. I’m sad to hear the BR Swamp is closed, as it’s my favorite somewhat-local hiking and photography place! Any idea how long it will be closed?

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