Along the sweep of Charlotte Harbor near Punta Gorda, natural lands provide places to trek and paddle through a variety of sometimes soggy habitats. Look for moderate to short hikes, sometimes challenging in nature, as well as walks through the vast prairies of Babcock Ranch near the Telegraph Swamp.
Trails and Parks in Punta Gorda
- Alligator Creek Preserve - At Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Alligator Creek Preserve offers two gentle loop trails where freshwater and saltwater habitats meet
- Amberjack Environmental Park - At Amberjack Environmental Park in Rotunda, a surprising collision of scrub and mangrove habitats means great birding along the high ground of the Cape Haze Peninsula
- Babcock Ecotour Trail - 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.
- Babcock Ranch Footprints Trail - 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.
- Cayo Costa Hiking Trails - Offshore from Boca Grande and Pine Island, Cayo Costa State Park is tough to get to but the 6.5 miles of trails and many more miles of beaches will be yours to roam
- Cayo Costa State Park - To spend a day or a weekend on your own deserted island? Heaven. This is one of the tougher and costlier state parks to get to, but well worth it.
- Cedar Point Environmental Park - Where Oyster Creek meets Lemon Bay in Englewood, Cedar Point Environmental Park provides easy interpretive hikes through coastal habitats on a wildlife-rich peninsula
- Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park - Stretched long and thin to follow the convoluted shoreline of Charlotte Harbor, Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park protects more than 100 miles of coastline along the Gulf Coast
- Don Pedro Island State Park - Imagine your own private island: a sweep of bright white sand along the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico. While a public park, open to all, Don Pedro Island State Park is a rare retreat for bathers, swimmers, and sun worshipers.
- Gasparilla Island State Park - A string of five beaches along the Gulf shore of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island, this far-flung outpost of Lee County is home to one of Florida's most delightful lighthouse museums.
- Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda - At Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, the rows and rows of sleek, high-powered driving machines fill the interior of a former Wal-Mart. Now that's a car collection!
- Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park - Follow the natural curves of the creek on a loop through Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port
- Old Datsun Trail - Where pine flatwoods and palm hammocks regain a foothold atop formerly farmed fields, the Old Datsun Trail loops what was once an agricultural school
- Ponce De Leon Park - Ponce De Leon Park is a city park at Punta Gorda with dramatic sunsets over the harbor and an excellent boardwalk through the mangroves for birding.
- St. Jude Trail - 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.
- Stump Pass Beach State Park - Stump Pass Beach State Park sits at just the right angle to collect seashells like a scoop, so early risers have their pick of conchs, murex, tulip shells, shark's teeth, and more.
- Tippecanoe Environmental Park - With 380 acres of uplands and wetlands along the rim of Tippecanoe Bay, Tippecanoe Environmental Park can be explored on an extensive interconnected network of hiking trails.