At your own speed
For the casual hiker and biker, the hard-packed sand of Fort Myers Beach invites breezy rides by day and scenic walks at sunset. Then there’s Sanibel Island, a designated Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, with its more than 25 miles of easily accessible bike paths that stretch and thread through subtropical hammocks, preserved wetlands and along main thoroughfares like Periwinkle Way and more. And that’s far from all. As a whole, Fort Myers contains enough hiking and bicycling trails to fulfill the interests of any explorer.
Seasoned hikers and mountain bikers in search of tougher trails should check out the Caloosahatchee Regional Park. Made up of pine flatwoods, and oak hammocks, this landscape is far from a walk in the park, but with more than 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails, it’s an exhilarating way to experience the area and its wildlife.
For even more brushes with native animals, our parks and preserves are some of the best places to roam around and perhaps snap photos of friendly critters and untouched natural beauty. Trails mainly composed of boardwalks run through these parks, such as Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, a 2,500-acre wetland preserve. Traverse it on a 1.2-mile boardwalk, giving you a dry vantage point above otherwise muddy terrain. If you need a break, take a breather beneath a canopy of oaks and palms before continuing on your journey, but don’t be surprised to meet local residents passing through. Gopher tortoise, raccoons, alligators and more than 400 kinds of birds call the area surrounding our trails home. Don’t forget to give them the right of way.
Part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States, the 7,600-acre J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Enter a slow-scenic-driving, walking, or biking trail that meanders past multiple pull off stations where you can get out and hike on trails from ¼ mile to 4 miles long. Alligators may be seen, but the main attraction is bird-watching. The refuge is home to more than 245 bird species, so don’t forget your binoculars!
You can also discover water, wildlife and wonderful adventures when bicycling in Cape Coral, another designated Bicycle Friendly Community. One of Florida’s largest cities by land mass offers a very special bicycling experience with more than 90 miles of interconnected bike routes bordering nature preserves, scenic canals, marinas, golf courses and the expansive Caloosahatchee River. Cycle along safe, easy-to-navigate routes to Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, where you can walk or kayak through a pristine mangrove forest, or to Rotary Park with a bird watching tower and butterfly house.