Hit the trails for National Walking Day

National Walking Day is the first Wednesday in April, and the CREW trails are a great place to get out and walk, no matter what your fitness level may be. Check out our suggestions for a few spots to celebrate with some fresh air and sunshine.

CREW Marsh Trails 

Location: 4600 Corkscrew Road (CR 850), Immokalee, FL 34142. Approximately 20 minutes east of I-75.

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Difficulty: Easy

Wear: Closed toed shoes and socks

Bring: Water, snacks, binoculars and cameras

Take a stroll on wide, hard-packed, mowed trails to the observation tower, where you can view the 6000 acre sawgrass marsh that helps clean the water that flows south and replenishes our aquifer. On the way to the tower, you will travel through pine flatwoods and an oak hammock. You may see butterflies, dragonflies, swallow tailed kites, red shouldered hawks, palm warblers, gopher tortoises and wildflowers in bloom. Approximate distance: 1.4 miles to the tower and back to the parking lot.

Cypress Dome Trails

Location: 3980 Corkscrew Road (CR 850), Immokalee, FL 34142. Approximately 15 minutes east of I-75.

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Difficulty: Medium

Wear: Closed toed shoes and socks

Bring: Water, snacks, binoculars and cameras

Start on the yellow loop from the parking lot and follow it around to the green loop. You’ll walk through pine flatwoods, cypress domes and you can stop to rest on a small bench overlooking one of our seasonal marshes. The end of the green loop takes you past Jim’s Pavilion, a great spot to sit and enjoy a snack or lunch. You may see butterflies, red shouldered hawks, wildflowers, warblers, woodpeckers, yellow rat snakes and box turtles. Approximate distance: 2.4 miles; if the distance is too much, use one of the two blue short cut trails.

Bird Rookery Swamp Trail

Location: 1295 Shady Hollow Blvd., Naples, FL 34120

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Difficulty: Hard

Wear: Closed toed shoes and socks

Bring: Water, snacks, binoculars and cameras

Become a “Looper” and hike the entire loop at Bird Rookery Swamp! You’ll walk on wide, grassy raised trams and share the trail with wildlife, including alligators, otters, banded water snakes, red bellied turtles, barred owls, roseate spoonbills, egrets and more. Approximate distance: 13 miles; if the distance is too much, head back to the parking lot before you begin to feel tired. The loop may take six or more hours; it is very important to bring food and water with you and to check your energy levels often to determine if you can make the full loop or not. as there are no shortcut trails.


Guided Hikes at CREW Trails Starting in November

guided hike

Join our excellent volunteers for an entertaining and informative 2.5-hour guided walk on a portion of the Bird Rookery Swamp trails near Naples, FL. Learn the history, see wildlife and enjoy the view.BRS eventbrite pic


  • Wednesdays (9:00 – 11:30 AM) – November through April
  • 1st Sundays (1:30 – 4 PM) – November through April
  • 4th Saturdays (9 – 11:30 AM) – November through August

The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is part of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (owned by the South Florida Water Management District). It includes a 1500 ft. boardwalk and nearly 12 miles of raised trails on old railroad trams. The cypress/maple swamp is home to wading birds, owls, deer, bear, panther, bobcat, limpkins, and much more.

Register ahead at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/bird-rookery-swamp-guided-walks-tickets-17327245257


Join CREW Land & Water Trust volunteer and FL Master Naturalist, Dr. David Cooper, for a humorous and informative 2.5 to 3-hour guided walk at the CREW Marsh Hiking Trails. Learn about the watershed as a whole, view wildflowers, animal signs, birds, butterflies, and more.marsh trails for eventbrite

  • 1st and 3rd Tuesday (9:00-12:00) November-April
  • 2nd Saturday  (9:00-12:00) November-April


The CREW Marsh Trails are part of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (owned by the South Florida Water Management District). These trails meander through pine flatwoods, along the edge of the marsh, to oak hammock and popash slough. The Marsh Trails are home to FL black bears, FL panthers, bobcats, limpkins, many songbirds, and more.

Register ahead at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/crew-marsh-trails-guided-walks-registration-17800793653



A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- ” A view around the 12.25-mile loop”

Below are first hand observations from our volunteer Dick Brewer. Who does weekly visits to Bird Rookery Swamp and very week sends us incredible stories of the magical 12 mile loop. If you would like to see more of his observations visit: http://www.dickbrewer.org/CREW.html

Deer at BRS

Saturday March 14th-  The numbers of species and individuals were larger than normal because I walked nearly eight hours and the hike was around the 12.25-mile loop.

The really large number for Glossy Ibis came when three V flights of about 22-24 each flew over at the same time — pretty awesome sight! The Barred Owl was an audio rather than visual observation, from between markers 4 and 5. The number of gators counted is not a typo; there were lots and lots of them including three clutches of six or seven month olds still staying close to their mothers. So much happening at Bird Rookery Swamp.



Anhinga – 12
Great Blue Heron – 11
Great Egret – 54
Snowy Egret – 10
Little Blue Heron – 15
Tri-colored Heron – 6
Green Heron – 4
Black-crowned Night Heron – 6
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – 1
White Ibis – 93
Glossy Ibis – 74
Wood Stork – 10
Black Vulture – 53
Turkey Vulture – 20
Swallow-tailed Kite – 1
Red-shouldered Hawk – 20
Common Gallinule – 1
Common Ground Dove – 3
Barred Owl – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 20
Downy Woodpecker – 3
Pileated Woodpecker – 4
Eastern Phoebe – 5
Great-crested Flycatcher – 13
American Crow – 3
Tufted Titmouse – 7
Carolina Wren – 33
Gray Catbird – 24
White-eyed Vireo – 28
Northern Waterthrush – 1
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Pine Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 2
Northern Parula – 8
Common Yellowthroat – 2
Northern Cardinal – 20
Common Grackle – 9


Palamedes Swallowtail – 13
Spicebush Swallowtail – 9
Tiger Swallowtail – 4
Gulf Fritillary – 4
Zebra Longwing – 22
White Peacock – 13
Queen – 2
Soldier – 2
Pearl Crescent – 2
Tropical Checker – 6
Great Southern White – 4
Cloudless Sulphur – 1


White-tailed Deer – 1
Gray Squirrel – 3
Red-bellied Turtle – 16
Florida Soft-shelled Turtle – 1
Banded Water Snake – 4
Water Moccasin – 1
Yellow Rat Snake – 1
Alligator – 273
Southeastern Five-lined Skink – 1
Green Anole – 1
Green Treefrog – 2
Cuban Treefrog – 3
Squirrel Treefrog – 2
Needham’s Skimmer – 8


A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- “A fun day for Otters”

otter at Bird Rookery Swamp

Below are first hand observations from our volunteer Dick Brewer. He does weekly visits to Bird Rookery Swamp and very week sends us incredible stories of the magical 12 mile loop. If you would like to see more of his observations visit: http://www.dickbrewer.org/CREW.html

otter at Bird Rookery Swamp
By Dick Brewer



Saturday, February 21st- Fun day for River Otters. One was just past Ida’s pond where I’ve seen it before. It came up on land, rolled in some leaves, and went to the base of a tree. Then, it jumped into ferns at the base of the tree. I didn’t know that otters could jump. It was pulling dead vegetation out and eventually made a small pile of leaves and vegetations and then
marked its territory.


The second group was a family by the dual culverts between markers 6 & 3. There was a large gator dozing by the entrance to one of the culverts and the otters were apparently teaching the young about predators. They were huffing, snorting, and barking and then harassed the gator by dashing at it and in a few cases touching its hindquarters. The gator finally had enough and raised its head, at which time all of the otters dispersed, still very noisy. A couple of bikers came by and were totally entertained.

By Dick Brewer

Pied-billed Grebe – 1
Anhinga – 9
Great Blue Heron – 7
Great Egret – 35
Snowy Egret – 3
Little Blue Heron – 4
Tri-colored Heron – 2
Green Heron – 1
Black-crowned Night Heron – 21
Yellow-crowned Night Heron – 1
White Ibis – 91
Glossy Ibis – 1
Wood Stork – 1
Black Vulture – 13
Turkey Vulture – 18
Red-shouldered Hawk – 12
Osprey – 1
Killdeer – 1
Common Ground Dove – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 10
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 7
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 2
Eastern Phoebe – 8
Great-crested Flycatcher – 3
Tree Swallow – 56
Tufted Titmouse – 4
Carolina Wren – 14
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 19
Northern Mockingbird – 3
Gray Catbird – 6
White-eyed Vireo – 6
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 11
Northern Cardinal – 2
Common Grackle – 4


White eyed viero
By Dick Brewer

Palamedes Swallowtail – 1
Zebra Longwing – 11
Queen – 2
Viceroy – 2
White Peacock – 15
Gulf Fritillary – 1
Dorantes Longtail – 2
Dun Skipper – 1
Tropical Checker – 2
Barred Yellow – 1

River Otter – 8
Gray Squirrel – 2
Red-bellied Turtle – 11
Banded Water Snake – 3
Water Moccasin – 2
Alligator – 84   ”

Visit Bird Rookery Swamp today and experience the beauty of CREW:   https://crewtrus.mystagingwebsite.com/2013/06/26/bird-rookery-swamp-trail/

FWC Seeking Input on Bear Management in South Florida

bear flyer topThe Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is holding three public meetings to get input on bear management in south Florida – including the area near and around CREW. The Florida black bear was taken off the endangered species list two years ago – a testament to the recovery efforts to save this umbrella species.

Now, southwest Florida is seeing an increase in human-bear encounters – which don’t always end up good for the bears. People and bears can co-exist, but human actions play an important role in how well that works. These public meetings will provide information on bears and opportunities for the public to make comments.

Come learn and get involved. Your voice and your actions will make a difference for bears in southwest Florida. Meetings in our area are:

  • Naples – June 26
  • Lehigh Acres – July 1

bear flyer bottom

Download the full Bear Management Workshop flyer 

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CREW Volunteer, George Luther, Honored as Collier Tourism Star

George Award

On Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, CREW Volunteer George Luther was selected as  the winner in the “Best Innovative Idea” category at the Collier County/Paradise Coast Tourism Awards ceremony. George was nominated by CREW staff for his Nature’s Peace at CREW program for Alzheimer patients and their caregivers. His nomination beat out 18 others submitted for the same category.

Here is George’s nomination description:

“George Luther came to us at the CREW Land and Water Trust in the fall of 2011 with the idea of leading hikes at the newly opened CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trail off Immokalee Road in Naples. After several months of successful hikes, and a chance encounter with an Alzheimer patient and her husband on one of those hikes, George came up with the idea to design a special guided walk for early-onset Alzheimer patients and their caregivers. He presented the idea to CREW staff and later to the Alzheimer Support Network in Naples. With the approval of that network and the CREW Trust, “Nature’s Peace at CREW” was born.

George designed the walk, planned the activities, and began connecting Alzheimer patients with nature. The guided walk consists of a very slow-paced stroll along the path of hard-packed crushed shell/limestone and the boardwalk at Bird Rookery Swamp. Along the walk, George stimulates the patients’ senses of touch, sight, smell and hearing by helping them observe natural objects that include plants, flowers, trees, water features, birds, mammals, reptiles, and butterflies. The accompanying caretakers get a brief respite from their daily duties of patient care while enjoying their loved one’s interaction with nature. George’s plan also incorporates the use of other CREW volunteers so patients have a more personalized experience. George welcomes each patient, designs and makes a special name tag  necklace for each patient to wear, and provides them with walking sticks.

Brenda Brooks, CREW’s Executive Director is eager to have these special visitors at CREW. “Hikers, photographers, mountain bikers and birders are just a few of the groups that enjoy CREW. Now, these guided walks will allow Alzheimer patients to benefit as well. Research has shown that Alzheimer patients benefit greatly when interacting with nature, and we’re thrilled to offer the opportunity for these patients to engage in healing walks at CREW”.
The first two walks in October and November demonstrated the power of the experiences. Patients who arrived with heads down, silent and closed off, left laughing and joking and happy. Caregivers thanked George for giving their loved ones a chance to remember their childhoods and enjoy a day of peace in nature.This program exposes a new user group to an often overlooked Collier County resource – the Bird Rookery Swamp Trails – which are free public lands and open to the public year round.

This innovative program is the only one of its kind in southwest Florida – bringing Alzheimer’s patients into the wild to help awaken memories and calm the mind and spirit. George is modest about his role, but the program never would have begun without his inspiration, dedication, and leadership.”

We are proud of George and very happy to have him on board as  a volunteer for CREW. His presence at Bird Rookery Swamp helps all the visitors more fully enjoy their experience there.

George Luther leads a Nature's Peace at CREW walk at Bird Rookery Swamp
George Luther leads a Nature’s Peace at CREW walk at Bird Rookery Swamp

See a News-Press article mentioning George’s award here.

Congratulations, George, and thank you for your dedication and passion for CREW and the community!


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