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.
Location: Pine Island
Length: 1 mile
Lat-Long: 26.512797, -82.081458
Fees / Permits: Free
Bug factor: moderate to high
Look for “Great Florida Birding Trail” signs to lead you from Stringfellow Rd to this site within the St. Jude Harbors subdivision along Stabile Rd.
Managed by the Calusa Land Trust, St. Jude Preserve protects 386 acres of mangrove forests along the southeastern coast of Pine Island.
You’ll find the trailhead adjoining an interpretive sign. The St. Jude Trail follows the planned route of St. Jude Blvd, which was planned in the 1960s to be the grand thoroughfare of a massive development on Pine Island. Why St. Jude? The developers were trying to catch Danny Thomas’ attention as a pitchman or investor; the actor was known for founding St. Jude’s Hospital. Conservation of this land started in 1992 when members of the Calusa Land Trust bought undeveloped acreage surrounding St. James’ Creek for back taxes.
The trail is lined with memorial benches as it follows the old roadbed. It leads you through a canopy shaded by mature live oaks and strangler figs, with an ever-thickening understory of tropical plants that eventually yields to buttowoods and mangroves. At the very end of the trail, enjoy birding along St. James Creek from a boardwalk and observation deck . Mosquitoes love this area, so take precautions!