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.

Andrew West of News-Press Creates Stunning Video of CREW

Andrew West, accomplished photo-journalist with the Fort Myers News-Press, publishes weekly online videos which represent his views of southwest Florida and his experiences photographing for a variety of news stories.

This week Andrew has created a spectacular video about his experience with high waters and a snake at CREW. His photography is stunning and his narration speaks to the magic that is CREW. Be sure to take a few minutes to watch this fabulous piece “Andrew’s View: High Waters and a Snake” from the News-Press website. It’s worth it!

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Deb Hanson in News-Press video on Rainfall

Deb Hanson in water (Photo by Andrew West/News-Press)
Deb Hanson in water (Photo by Andrew West/News-Press)

The CREW Land & Water Trust’s environmental education specialist, Deb Hanson, went for a rainy season walk through the White loop at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails last week with news-Press reporter Chad Gillis and photographer Andrew West. Today, the News-Press published the article about rainfall in southwest Florida, and Deb is featured on the front page of the print paper and on a video here on the News-Press website. Nice to see CREW in the newspaper. Thanks to Chad and Andrew for both the fun walk and the great spread in the paper!


CREW Water Levels Rising Fast

The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) encompasses approximately 60,000 acres, running from Corkscrew Road in Lee County south beyond Immokalee Road in Collier County. You can see a map of the whole watershed here. When it rains enough for the ground to get saturated, water levels rise and then the water “sheet flows” downhill across the surface of the land.

In CREW, it takes about a week for the water to flow from the north part of the watershed to the south part. With the summer rains we’ve been lucky to get this year, we are seeing that sheet flow in action. CREW volunteer George Luther installed a few water level posts at Bird Rookery Swamp last year. He’s been recording measurements regularly and recently reported the change in water levels at the parking lot pond there. Take a look at the chart below showing the rise since July 1st.

Water Level Rise at Bird Rookery Swamp July 1 - 15, 2013
Water Level Rise at Bird Rookery Swamp July 1 – 15, 2013

We haven’t seen water levels like this during the early summer months here at CREW for a long time. This is great for water recharge and our drinking water supply. And the woods are teeming with wetland critters. It’ll be interesting to see what other changes occur as levels continue to rise as the summer goes on… What’s the highest water level you’ve experienced at CREW?

Water over Shady Hollow Blvd.
Water over Shady Hollow Blvd. at the entrance to Bird Rookery Swamp parking lot – July 15, 2013 (Photo by George Luther)

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