Although John is a native Floridian, our research trip to South Florida became an opportunity for him to see many natural “firsts” in Florida that most people have on their life lists.
Getting outdoors in Southwest Florida
Trails and public lands throughout Southwest Florida, the Gulf Coast region south of Tampa Bay and stretching down to Naples.
Part of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, Alligator Creek has two loop trails where freshwater and saltwater habitats meet, enabling you to explore a variety of coastal habitats in less than three miles.
In spring, alligators become more active as the days warm up. It’s also mating season, so alligators are on the move. Expect to see them anywhere and everywhere along Florida’s trails.
At Amberjack Environmental Park, a surprising collision of scrub and mangrove habitats occurs in Rotunda in the Cape Haze peninsula of Charlotte County.
At Babcock Wilderness Adventures – a popular ecotourism attraction east of Punta Gorda – the Ecotour Trail is a no-cost option to getting your feet wet on an exploration of wet flatwoods habitats along a well-maintained trail through the palmetto prairie.
Following old forest roads, the purple-blazed loop of the Footprints Trail through the heart of Babcock Ranch, a vast prairie punctuated by cypress strands, provides a simple introduction to this often-squishy ecosystem.
In a hidden corner of Collier County, Barefoot Beach Preserve provides immersion in nature at a beauty spot along two miles of natural shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico just north of Wiggins Pass.
A massive ecosystem spanning more than a million acres, Big Cypress is a mosaic of sensitive tropical landscapes seen nowhere else in the United States.
Protecting the heart of the Big Cypress Swamp, Big Cypress National Preserve was established in 1974. Exploring its lush subtropical landscapes means wading through crystal-clear swamps or paddling its channelized rivers.
At Lovers Key State Park, head to the north end of the island to explore the Black Island Trail. Shared with mountain bikers, the trail system at Black Island consists of two separate loops linked by an unpaved service road.