Know before you go: Holiday Hiking

Looking for some vitamin D therapy this holiday week? The trails are waiting and wild Florida is happy to see you!

But before you slip on those flip flops (please no) and head out to one of the CREW Trails, check out a few of the things you might want to know before you go. It will save you the pain of fire ant bites if you DO opt for flip flops (again, please please please no).

For trail conditions, click here.

CREW Marsh Trails

Address: 4600 CR 850 (Corkscrew Road), Immokalee, FL 34142

Hours: Open every day, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Facilities: Port-o-potty in parking lot; no trash cans – please pack it in, and pack it out

Miles of trails: 5.5 combined miles of looped trails

Wear: Closed-toe shoes, socks; pants advised if grass is high (as of 12/24/2018 grass is only high along Alternative Marsh trail)

Pack: Water, bug spray (if desired), snack

Safety: Fire ants do nest in disturbed areas along the edges of the trails, so please walk in the middle of the trails.

Can’t Miss Spot: Head out to the Observation Tower, which overlooks the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh. The marsh is a key part of the watershed and helps filter the water that eventually ends up in the aquifer (and then, in your glass!)

Notes: Do not trust Google maps! Instead, follow these directions:

From Naples/Bonita Springs/S. Fort Myers: Travel  I-75 N to exit 123 (Corkscrew Rd.).  Go 18 miles east on Corkscrew Rd.  You will pass the CREW Cypress Dome Trails.  Go another 4 miles and you will see the CREW Marsh Trails on your right.  Look for the brown road signs.

From N Ft. Myers/Charlotte County/Lehigh Acres: travel I-75 to exit 138 (the ML King/S.R. 82 exit).  Travel east on S.Rr 82 toward Immokalee for 20 miles.  Watch for a small blue C.R. 850 sign, then turn right on C.R. 850 (Corkscrew Rd.).  The Marsh Trails are apporximately 2 miles down the road on your left.  Look for the brown road signs.

Trail Map:

Cypress Dome Trails and Caracara Prairie Preserve

Address: 3980 CR 850 (Corkscrew Road), Immokalee, FL 34142

Hours: Open every day, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Facilities: Port-o-potty located close to parking lot on the beginning of the green loop (head toward Jim’s Pavillion)

Miles of trails: The Cypress Dome Trails offer six combined miles of looped trails and connects to Caracara Prairie Preserve, which is owned and managed by Conservation Collier.

Wear: Closed-toe shoes, socks and long pants recommended, especially as there may be muddy conditions in the middle of the Wild Coffee Trail (the farthest part of the white trail).

Pack: Water, snacks, bug spray. Bring extra water if you plan on heading out to Caracara Prairie Preserve as well.

Safety: December is small game hunting season and there are hunters on the property; hunting is monitored by FWC. Fire ants nest in distrubed areas along the sides of the trails, so walking in the middle of the trail is advised.

Can’t Miss Spot: Head out on the green trail (turn right from the trailhead) and it will wind around, past the pavillion, and then meet up with the blue trail (a shortcut). This is marker 4 on the map, and in front of you will be a beautiful Cypress Dome. It is almost dry this time of year, and you can see the water level marks on the bark. Take a photo of yourself or a family member next to the cypress tree so you can see how high the water gets in that area during rainy season!

Notes: Again, don’t trust Google Maps. Follow these directions:

From Naples/Bonita Springs/S. Fort Myers – Travel I-75 N to exit 123 (Corkscrew Rd.). Travel 14 miles east on Corkscrew Rd. The Cypress Dome Trails will be on your right just past a big curve to the left (north). Look for the brown trail signs.

From N Ft. Myers/Charlotte Co./Lehigh Acres: Travel I-75 to exit 138 (the ML King/S.R. 82 exit). Turn left (east) off the ramp. Travel 20 miles toward Immokalee (east) on S.R. 82. Turn right on C.R. 850 (Corkscrew Rd.). You will pass the CREW Marsh Trails at the 2-mile mark. Continue for 4 more miles. The Cypress Dome Trails will be on your left. Look for the brown road signs.

Trail Map:

Flint Pen Strand Trails

Address: 15970 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135

Hours: Open every day, one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Facilities: One port-o-potty located in the parking lot. No trash cans; pack it in, pack it out.

Miles of trails:  At this early stage, there is one trail open – the Billy G. Cobb Memorial Trail (red trail). It is approximately 1.5 miles long with a blue shortcut trail.

Wear: Closed-toe shoes, socks. Long pants if grass is long but at this time the grass should be short.

Pack: Water, bug spray.

Safety: This trail is not flat and has a lot of terrain changes. Fire ants are a hazard as they like to nest in disturbed areas along the trail.

Can’t Miss Spot: The Melaleuca ghost forest, an area of invasive trees that were treated years ago and are now dead. This area shows what happens when you remove the invasives and allow the land to heal itself, and you will spot young slash pine that are growing and will eventually help this spot return to a hydric pine flatwood.

Notes: Park in the parking lot (and not along the side of Vincent Road). Stick to the marked trails at this time, as some of the surrounding area is privately owned.

Trail Map:

Bird Rookery Swamp Trails

Address: 1295 Shady Hollow Boulevard, Naples, FL 34120

Hours: Open every day, one hour before sunrise to one hour past sunset

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Facilities: Two port-o-potties in the parking lot; no trash cans – pack it in, pack it out

Miles of trails: One almost-13-mile loop. There are no shortcuts back to the parking lot, nor are there any vehicles to come get you if you go out too far and are too tired to walk back.

Wear: Closed-toe shoes, socks, bug spray.

Pack: Snacks and plenty of water, especially if you are going to do the full loop. The swamp is quite humid and you can get dehydrated quickly on a warm day.

Safety: Turn around before you feel tired. This is very important at this trail system, as we have had people head out too far, then decide they cannot walk back to the parking lot – and their only option is to call 911.

Also, this trail is home to numerous alligators. Read all alligator safety signs – you will pass several in the parking lot. Remember this is their home, and you are a visitor. Turn around and go the other way if an alligator is on the path. You may not throw rocks or harass the alligators; if you see someone doing this, call FWC law enforcement.

The walking of dogs/pets is NOT recommended at this trail due to the presence of alligators.

Can’t Miss Spot: The lake at the culvert, just past the boardwalk. You may see alligators, great white egrets, herons, roseate spoonbills and the occasional limpkin feeding in the water.

Notes: Please read all signs and safety information. For first time visitors, a short, easy walk is to head out to the short boardwalk, walk to the first pond, then turn around and head back. This will be around a mile and you will see cypress trees, red maple, wildflowers, ferns, air plants, migratory song birds, herons and more.

Trail Map:

 

BRS sign

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *