Bringing together landowners along the Gordon River in 1988, the Southwest Florida Land Preservation Trust worked with them to develop an urban recreation corridor.
It took 30 years for each element of the 140-acre linear park to fall into place. It now connects the Golden Gate Parkway most of the way to downtown Naples.
While you are most likely to explore it on foot or by bicycle, the Gordon River Greenway also allows paddlers to put in and parallel the paved pathway.
The greenway incorporates an interesting mix of boardwalks, bridges, natural pathways, and paved trail through and along the mangrove forest surrounding its namesake waterway.
Thanks to the dense mangrove forest along its shores, this is an excellent destination for wildlife watching.
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Length: 2.6 miles round-trip
Trailhead: 26.1678, -81.7880
Address: 1580 Goodlette-Frank Rd
Restroom: at both parking areas
Land manager: Collier County
Open 6:30 AM to 10 PM daily. The Gordon River Greenway is lighted along its length and the lamp posts have ID numbers to reference in case of an emergency.
Leashed dogs welcome. Frequent benches make this an easy stroll for all ages. There is a playground at the North Parking Area.
Bicycles welcome. Yield to pedestrians. Be cautious on the boardwalks when they are wet.
Contact the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at 239-213-2500 to arrange a guided kayak tour or an electric boat ecotour along the river.
Members of the conservancy may rent kayaks and launch into the Gordon River from their private landing. Their nature center is just a little south of the South Parking Area.
The South Parking Area, which we used, adjoins the Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. From US 41, take Golden Gate Pkwy west (or from Airport-Pulling Rd, take it east) and turn south on Goodlette-Frank Rd. Enter the parking area for the zoo and drive all the way to the back of it to find the park.
The North Parking Area is along Golden Gate Pkwy almost a block west of Goodlette-Frank Rd on the south side of the highway, at 1596 Golden Gate Pkwy.
A walk-in entrance is on Post Rd, behind the Naples Airport.
Following the Greenway
On our visit to Naples, we spent one evening walking part of the Gordon River Greenway. We came back the next morning to bike it.
Our time was limited, so we concentrated our efforts on going south to find the end of the greenway behind the Naples Airport.
Our 2.6 mile round trip by bike is shown in red on the Trail Map at the bottom of this page.
The portions in blue include the 0.7-mile North Loop that connects to the North Trailhead, and the 0.4-mile nature trail in the pine flatwoods.
Starting out from the circle at the South Parking Area, follow the paved path up to the boardwalk.
The paddler put-in is just south of the paved path. The river is very narrow here, flowing southward towards downtown
The boardwalk is broad, so it isn’t a problem to pass by other cyclists and hikers as it curves through the mangrove forest.
It meets the first trail junction after 0.2 mile, a junction of boardwalks where the North Loop begins. Directional signage helps you keep your bearings.
Continue straight ahead and pass a rain shelter. When the boardwalk ends at a T, turn right. The left turn is the other end of the 0.7-mile North Loop.
The trail becomes a broad paved path through pine flatwoods. A paved circle with benches marks the entrance to a footpath that arcs through the woods.
That 0.4-mile nature trail has a second access point at a covered bench farther along the trail.
Pass another covered bench that sits on the edge of a wetland. This is a nice place to stop and watch for birds.
As pine flatwoods yield to the mangrove forest again at 0.6 mile, the trail once again becomes a boardwalk weaving through it.
Another rain shelter also serves as an overlook on the river. Past it, it’s a surprise to cross a broad waterway.
While we thought it was the Gordon River, it only is where you look south.
The waterway is actually one of the main drainage canals in Naples. It empties into the Gordon River at this point and widens it significantly.
Making a sharp turn as the boardwalk reaches the far shore, it passes another covered shelter when the boardwalk ends.
This one has an observation deck behind it for better views up and down the river than the bridge.
Beyond this stop, the paved path sticks close to the river, with lots of views of it through the trees.
As it turns away from the river, it winds through a sparse tropical hammock. Brightly colored fungi rose from the damp forest floor.
The trail crosses the mangrove swamp one last time as it curves towards the airport, where the path presses up against the airport fence.
This straightaway comes to an end at Port Avenue. This is the end of the greenway and our turn-around point after 1.3 miles.
Looking at the map, it appears you could ride south on 19th St and use Baker Park to cross the river and connect with the side path along Goodlette-Frank Rd into downtown.
On the return trip, we made more stops and paid more attention to the details of the forest while retracing our route.
Once past the nature trail loop in the pine flatwoods, we turned left rather than follow the North Loop.
That took us past the rain shelter along the boardwalk between the two ends of the North Loop for a final time.
The boardwalk zigzagged through the mangroves back to the South Parking Area.
We enjoyed one last look at the Gordon River before we returned to the trailhead for a 2.6-mile ride.
Follow the same route as outlined above for a hike to the south end of the Gordon River Greenway.
On foot instead of by bike, there is time to pause and watch for birds and fish from the river bridge.
You also notice a lot more detail in the mangrove forest. Mangrove crabs scurry along the trunks and on the boardwalk.
Bromeliads of every shape and size thrive among the mangroves. Vines of mangrove rubber vine tangle through them too.
We walked out to the trail junction, passing the rain shelter both ways, and turned around when the rain started.
If you make a left at the trail junction and do the North Loop, that adds another 0.7 mile to the route.
If you make a right and also walk the wood-chip path through the pines in addition to the bike route we describe, it’s 3.7 miles to cover all the trails by foot.
See our photos of the Gordon River Greenway
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
First established in 1919 by botanist Henry Nehrling as a caladium farm, Caribbean Gardens grew into a major tourist attraction for tropical trees and plants, and is now the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens.
At Naples Botanical Garden, buildings, landscaping, and nature live in harmony, with a delicate balance of natural spaces and lush gardens accented with art achieved.
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.