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Six Great Hikes Around Fort Myers

Sometimes, the best moments of your vacation are in the simplest settings. In the Fort Myers area, great hikes are within close reach and yet allow you to feel like you’re a world away. Reconnect with nature, your loved ones and yourself on these six gratifying local hikes.

 

Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve, North Fort Myers

Set against the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, multiple trails cross through sparkling wetlands and loop around upland forests, tall ferns and scrubby flatwoods. The most dog-friendly trail is the 1-mile Sweetbay Trail on the east side of the preserve, where it’s easy to cool off under shady spots and break for a picnic. Look for wildlife on your walk along the boardwalks and primitive trails; you are very likely to hear songbirds and see woodland birds flitting overhead.

Galt Preserve, St. James City, Pine Island

Spanning an impressive 265 acres, Galt Preserve has four distinctive hiking trails that encompass a dozen habitats like mangrove swamps and mesic flatwoods. The East Trail takes you through nearly 2 miles of pine flatwoods while the Phil Buchanan Memorial Trail is just over a mile and features boardwalks and a fishing pier. Bring your binoculars to look for nesting bald eagles, along with a variety of wading birds and alligators.

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J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Bailey Tract, Sanibel Island

While the entirety of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is worth a visit, make sure to also explore the Bailey Tract off Tarpon Bay Road. Amid refreshing sea breezes, marked trails take you through wetlands and hardwood hammock habitats highlighted by interpretive signs about the wildlife and plants that live in these unique ecosystems. As with the refuge's well-known Wildlife Drive, the Bailey Tract is excellent for observing a variety of wading birds.

Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, Cape Coral

This 365-acre jewel takes you right through a forest of mangroves along the Caloosahatchee River. The 1.25-mile nature trail and boardwalk offer a quiet, easy stroll showing off herons, egrets, and other wading and migratory birds. The preserve is also a launch point for kayaking or canoeing along the waterways winding through the dense mangroves.

Six Mile Cypress Slough North Trail

 

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve North, Fort Myers 

Located about 5 miles north of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and its popular boardwalk, this separate preserve welcomes visitors to explore nearly 8 miles of combined hiking and equestrian trails. If you are looking for a longer hike to really disappear into nature for a couple hours, this is the spot. Cross through pine flatwoods, oak hammocks and cypress stands to take in views of colorful wildflowers, wading birds and hawks flying overhead.

Telegraph Creek Preserve, Alva

For more experienced hikers, this expansive preserve is a wildlife wonderland providing critical habitat for threatened species such as the Florida scrub-jay and gopher tortoise. The western trail is open for both hiking and horseback riding, while the hiking-only eastern trail also allows access to the adjacent Bob Janes Preserve. Just about a mile west from the preserve, you can launch a kayak into Telegraph Creek, a tributary of the Caloosahatchee River that is part of the famed Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.

Stretch your legs and soak up the sun on these great Florida hikes in and around Fort Myers. Find more wildlife walks and nature walks right here.