Stringing together a number of parcels along nearly four miles of wildlife corridor, Alva Scrub Preserve protects over 1,200 acres of land that is home to threatened and endangered species.
Several access points allow visitors to explore the properties, although an official set of trails has been created on one of the largest sections.
Off road biking is designated to a 4.8 mile trail at the north end, and a 3 mile loop to the south portion is available for equestrians and hikers.
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Length: 3 mile loop
Trailhead: 26.698842, -81.630890
Address: 2891 Goggin Rd, Alva
Land manager: Lee County
Open sunrise to sunset. No pets allowed.
Exit Interstate 75 at SR 80 east of downtown Fort Myers. Follow SR 80 east for 10.6 miles to Goggin Rd and take a right. In 0.7 mile, the entrance to the preserve will be on the left.
At the dual trailhead for the bicycle and hiking trails on the eastern side of the parking lot, an informational kiosk displays maps and details about the preserve.
Heading to the right, a sandy footpath leads along the fence line for a few hundred feet before turning onto a wide grassy trail.
Reaching an intersection at a tenth of a mile, turn right again to begin the loop, following orange painted metal posts through a dense landscape of shrubs dotted with cabbage palms.
Wax myrtles stand near coastalplain staggerbush, alongside attractive purple blooms of winged loosestrife flowers.
As the trail continues eastward, slash pines tower above lush greenery as birds of prey circle high above in search of a meal or nesting spot.
Patches of Florida pennyroyal and vanillaleaf fill the air with sweet and minty aromas while bees buzz among thistles and beautyberries.
In the more soggy and shaded areas, wild coffee clusters along the forest floor, sporting tiny white blossoms throughout the year.
At one mile, stay to the left at a confusing junction of forest roads to remain on the loop trail.
Grapevines, catbrier, and Virginia creeper climb over shrubs and tree trunks, tangling together while competing for sunlight.
In areas where humidity and cover are more abundant, air plants and epiphytic ferns cling to the side of rugged trees.
Orange blazes lead the way as the trail weaves through a mix of cabbage palms, oaks, and pines, crossing seasonally wet clearings bordered with tall golden grasses.
At 2.3 miles, the trail takes a sharp turn to the west, paralleling a small canal for 0.8 miles before returning to the trailhead.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.