We want everyone to know that all four of the CREW trail systems- Bird Rookery Swamp, Flint Pen Strand, Cypress Dome Trail, and CREW Marsh Trails are all currently open. We are updating our website daily with current information regarding their status. So get out to the trails soon, just be sure to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others. As always, your donations and support are greatly appreciated, so bring a few extra bucks to drop in the donation box on the trails. Stay well everyone!
Who benefits from my donation?
Student groups visiting the CREW trails often express wonder and gratitude for the exposure to water, birds, habitats, trees and plants that we provide. Sadly some of them admit that they’ve never gone on an outdoor hike and some express a little fear. We design activities that they enjoy – teaching them how to use binoculars and spot birds; allowing them to dip net fish and invertebrates which they study through magnifiers before returning them unharmed to their habitats; walking under the canopy of a cypress dome; and investigating the soils of CREW and what it tells us about our environment. Sometimes they get their feet wet but they don’t complain. And by the end of their hike they lose their fear of the outdoors!
To support and enrich these programs, the CREW Trust has invested in necessary equipment such as binoculars, bird identification books, and dip nets. We handle these items with care and are able to use them for years with different groups. But every year we need to replace some items.
Your purchase of tickets for the 2020 Concert Under the Stars will support these field trip experiences. More importantly, you’re helping us to educate all of our guests on the importance of our watershed and why we need to preserve it for the benefit of all.
Turkey. Pumpkin Pie. Apple Pie. Salted Caramel Pecan Pie.
Can you tell we really love pie?
We also like wearing normal pants to work and leaving our elastic waist pants at home, which means a little friendly exercise may be in order this weekend. And if you’ve got serious pie plans like us, we’ve got four reasons you should hit the trails this holiday weekend.
Reason #1: Burn, baby, burn
According to Livestrong.com, one hour of hiking burns between 430 and 460 calories if a person weighs 160 pounds. The amount of calories burned doesn’t just vary based on weight; it also varies based on terrain. Because most of Southwest Florida is flat, we probably burn less calories, but the article says nothing about how the high humidity makes us sweat buckets. And, since Americans consume between 3,000 and 4,000 calories during Thanksgiving Dinner, a few hours on the trail Thursday before turkey time might be a good idea.
Reason #2: Nature therapy
Trail running, forest bathing, communing with nature, hugging the trees – however it is that you enjoy the outdoors, you are getting actual benefits. Spending time outdoors can have significant positive impacts on your health – including reducing stress. Hit the trails and hike away the family drama or Black Friday shopping trauma – whatever you need to escape from, let the fresh air and warm Florida sun wash it all away.
photo credit: Bill Zaino
Reason #3: Make memories
We see it all too often during our education programs – today’s kids just don’t have the freedom and opportunity to run wild outside. Make some memories this weekend with your kids and grandkids and take a hike. Not sure what you’re doing? Grab a map at the kiosk and head out to the observation tower at the CREW Marsh trails – there and back is a very manageable (approximately) one mile hike. Your curious guests may ask a ton of questions but remember that, to enjoy nature, you don’t have to KNOW nature. Not sure what that purple wildlfower is? Download an app ahead of time to identify it OR just call it a PPW (pretty purple wildflower). Or completely make up a name because your six year old niece has no idea whether or not that flower is called a Pecanpie regretticus.
Reason #4: Florida fall
Yes, we actually do have fall here in Florida. It’s the tail end of our fall wildflower season and the red maples are turning glorious color and dropping their foliage. If you truly miss the smell of falling leaves, head out to the CREW Marsh Trails and scuff your feet through the thin layer of maple leaves that is collecting on the boardwalk. The cypress trees in Bird Rookery Swamp are changing colors as well and will soon briefly lose their needles. And don’t forget about the animals – the red-shouldered hawks are really active right now as they prepare for mating season. Unlike most animals on the trails, the noisy shrieks of the hawks completely overpowers any loud little children you’ve brought with you.
If you do hit the trails this weekend, please remember to do so safely – take water, wear closed-toe shoes (to protect against fire ants), grab a map from the kiosk and turn back towards the parking lot before you feel tired. And remember to practice the leave no trace principles – leave nothing but footprints.
Check your wingspan, show off your jumping abilities, learn about backyard birds and so much more at Amazing Animal Abilities on Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails!
This year’s event will take place in an open field near the trailhead with ample parking for guests. Adults and children can visit 10 stations, experiencing everything from nature-related crafts and geocaching to learning more about local and migratory birds and the wildlife that calls CREW home.
Informative volunteer naturalists will lead small groups on guided nature walks, teaching families about the CREW project, identifying flora and fauna and helping establish a connection between guests and nature.
“My hope for this event is to bring more young families out to the CREW trails,” explained Jessi Drummond, education coordinator for CREW Land & Water Trust. “We want to show them how easy it is to have fun in nature and provide them with ideas and activities they can do at home or while visiting CREW.”
Families are encouraged to register for this free event by visiting crewtrust.org. Cost is $5 per family for non-members; families who are members attend for free.
The CREW Cypress Dome Trails offer six miles of well-marked loop trails through pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, wet prairie, popash slough and cypress domes. The trails are flat and mainly composed of grass and sand. There is no running water at the site and a portable bathroom is available for use.
The CREW Cypress Dome Trails are located at 3980 Corkscrew Road, Immokalee, just 15 minutes east of I-75 near the Estero/Collier County border.
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.
- Download a geocaching app on your smartphone. We used Geoacaching which was very user-friendly; I opted to purchase a one month subscription. You can also get the coordinates from a geocaching website, like geocaching.com. The smart phone app was nice because it helped me lure the teens into going with us.
- Wear long pants and long socks. This seems like common sense but my 7 year old was more than happy to wear a pink fluffy skirt and her ladybug rain boots. After tromping off the trails and searching for our first two caches she understood why long pants were a better option.
- Let the kids do the leading and the finding – within reason. I insisted on being in the front whenever we ventured off the trails and everyone followed that rule. But once the app alerted us that we were close, I let the kids take over and start searching for the caches.
- Make sure you bring trinkets. Some caches have goodies inside and the kids can take something, like a really gorgeous marble, and leave one of their trinkets behind. Also bring a pen to sign your name on the list in the cache, and have the kids come up with a cool geocaching name for your group.
- Set a reasonable goal. I said we would try to find four caches, and after our third one (which was a bit difficult, but probably our best memory of the day) the kids were ready to go home. I reminded them of our goal and we trudged on, finding two more caches on our way back to the trail head.
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.