Mangrove forests. Salt flats. High marsh. You’ll find them all along the Little Pine Island High Marsh Trail, one of the wilder walks you can take on Pine Island.
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Location: Pine Island
Length: 1.8 mile loop
Trailhead: 26.618717, -82.090150
Address: 4950 Pine Island Road, St. James City
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. Mosquito repellent a must.
While bikes are permitted we don’t recommend riding here, as your tires will sink in the marl mud.
This trail crosses tidal flats. Check tide charts before hiking or plan for wet feet. The trail is very mucky in places, so bring a spare pair of shoes and use hiking sticks for balance.
From Interstate 75 exit 143, head west on SR 78 (Pine Island Rd) for 19.3 miles. On the way, pass through North Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
After driving onto Pine Island and through Matlacha, watch for the trailhead kiosk on the right, in the estuary. It is 3.5 miles past CR 765. If you get to the intersection with Stringfellow Rd you missed the trailhead.
Pick up an interpretive brochure at the trailhead. The loop leads you through the estuarine tidal marsh, with markers that correspond to the interpretive brochure.
Based on personal experience, we recommend a counterclockwise hike. You’ll visit the tidal pond first, which is always productive for birding.
As the trail leaves the mangroves and loops out into the estuarine marsh, wet or muddy shoes are highly likely. We found it necessary to backtrack because of how deep the mud got in the tidal zone.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A ramble to the mangrove-lined shores of St. Jude Harbor, the St. Jude Trail is a birder’s delight, tucked away in a residential neighborhood on the edge of St. James City on Pine Island and protected by the Calusa Land Trust.
Where pine flatwoods and palm hammocks regain a foothold atop formerly farmed fields, the Old Datsun Trail loops what was once an agricultural school
At Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Alligator Creek Preserve offers two gentle loop trails where freshwater and saltwater habitats meet