Wet Walk 101

by Allison Vincent

CREW Flint Pen Strand trail during the rainy season

Walk the seasonally wet trails of CREW for an education in watersheds! Join our education coordinator, Julie Motkowicz on any of the four upcoming Wet Walks – each at a different trail location. We’ll give you a list of what to wear and what to pack at the bottom of this, but first we want to go over a few “W’s”, such as why would I ever want to take a wet walk?

What is the appeal of a Wet Walk?

One of the many joys of a wet walk

Imagine hiking down a lazy river, one with pure nature surrounding you, shading you from the sun and cooling your calves with the fresh rainwater from the days before. Have a picture in your head? This genre of adventurous outings never gets old. Plus, it has a feeling of accomplishment, like reaching a summit, when you complete an out-of-your-comfort-zone wet walk, no matter how many times you’ve been in the swamp.

What about alligators, or worse, mosquitos?

While we can’t ever guarantee that you’ll have a mosquito-free hike, or never see an alligator sunning, we can guarantee that you are only on the menu for one of those top Florida predators’. So bring some bug spray just in case and try to enjoy the prehistoric majesty of our resident dinosaurs. They’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone.

What if you’re not ready to go it alone? 

School groups at CREW Marsh trails

The excitement of a wet walk is fanned in a group of like-minded enthusiasts and you can benefit from the interpretation of our guide and the comfort of camaraderie. This otherworldly feeling can be yours, all within a relatively short drive to one of the CREW trails this summer.

So, what should I expect, you ask? 

To get wet, for one! Verdant landscapes with bromeliads and various air plants, quiet soundscapes muted by water, and probably very few reptiles (sorry, not sorry). 

CREW trails wet walk tour

Lastly, what to wear and what to pack:

  • We recommend wearing old sneakers – always close-toed, as they drain and dry more quickly than hiking boots. However, if you are more comfortable in boots, that’s just fine. Steer clear of waders and tall water-proof boots, as the water inevitably finds its way over the ledge and they’re heavy. 
  • Long pants that dry quickly are going to be more comfortable than heavy pants or shorts. 
  • Long sleeve shirts will help protect your skin from brushing against plants and from the sun on the return journey when the rays are more harsh. 
  • Hat
  • walking stick – if you don’t have a walking stick we will provide one
  • camera in a waterproof bag
  • Pack enough water for the wet walk, sometimes splurging on a flavored electrolyte pouch in your water will save the day. 
  • Bring snacks too, in case you need a little pick-me-up to move those quads through the extra weight of the water. 
  • The rest is up to you! 

Why is the grass long? Our answers to a few Summer FAQ’s


For us, it’s a much needed break from our season schedule. We’re off scouting new trails, leading a few field trips and heading off on vacations. Summer is slow for us, which can be frustrating for people trying to reach us in the office (where we rarely are) or via email (which we don’t answer on vacation). Because of this, check out our answers to a few summertime Frequently Asked Questions.

Why aren’t there any guided walks scheduled during the summer?

The majority of our visitors are seasonal, but that isn’t the only reason why we offer our guided walks November-April. Those months are also when most of our volunteers are here and we depend on their expertise and generously donated time to lead those hikes. Other reasons are trail conditions and weather. With storms almost every day, lightning is a big deterrent for us scheduling programs during the rainy season. And the trail conditions vary daily and can be wet, muddy, have tall grass – or all of the above.

What are you doing this summer?

Everything we can’t do during season. We are planning next year’s programs, working on reports, and creating new programs for our volunteers, local students and visitors. We’re also doing some major projects. Last summer we walked the first potential Flint Pen Strand trail once a month to monitor how deep the water will get (waist deep for those of you that are curious). This summer we are hard at work re-routing a section of that proposed trail, installing trail markers, improving trail conditions and scouting out additional trails so that everything is ready to go when the South Florida Water Management District opens the trail.

The grass is getting long. When will you mow the trails?

This one is a VERY frequently asked question. We, meaning the CREW Trust staff and volunteers, do not mow the trails. The trails and surrounding land are managed by the South Florida Water Management District. So why is the grass long? There are two main reasons. First, mowing is not a land management priority. Now that some of the rain has come, our land managers are working to complete prescribed burns before the land gets really wet. They are also working on other land management projects that take up their time. The second reason is that, as the water levels rise, the ground gets softer. As we head further into rainy season, the mowers will not be able to get back into the trails without getting stuck. That is the case now in sections of the Cypress Dome Trails, and will be soon in sections of Bird Rookery Swamp. Remember, the land is there for water first, wildlife second, and our enjoyment third.

Bear print

I saw game camera pictures on your website but when I visited I didn’t see any animals. Why is that?

We didn’t pay the animals that day. Just kidding. Kind of. Part of seeing or not seeing animals has to do with the time of day you are on the trails. Early morning or late evening is best, and when you want to hide from the scorching hot inferno of mid-day SWFL summer, the animals do too. The other part is simply luck. We do see more animal tracks during the summer, and part of that could be because we have less people on the trails, or because some of the areas that the animals frequent have too much water so they are looking for dryer areas. Or maybe they finally got our check cashed.

I can’t do (insert favorite thing) on the trails because of trail conditions. When will I be able to do (insert thing)?

Think of this disruption of your favorite thing on the trails (walking disrupted by boot-sucking mud, biking disrupted by long grass) as an opportunitiy to try something you haven’t tried before. Head out with your friend and wade through the Wild Coffee Trail at the Cypress Dome Trails. Slosh along the edge of the marsh at the CREW Marsh Trails and use a field guide to identify all of the blooming wildflowers. Grab a kiddo (or just be a kid at heart) and take photos and identify all the tracks in the mud at any of the trails. Pretty soon rainy season will be over, the water will go down and the mud will dry up and you can go back to your normal favorite trail activities.

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