4 Stunning Hikes on the Paradise Coast

4 Stunning Hikes on the Paradise Coast
February 28 11:10 2018 Print This Article

When you think of Florida’s Paradise Coast, beautiful beaches may be the first items that spring to mind. Beyond the stretches of sand, however, lie many hikes designed to amaze and challenge you. Grab your hiking shoes and gear up for four stunning hikes on the Paradise Coast.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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While many Paradise Coast hikes are relatively strenuous, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve gives you a chance to ease into the tropical climate with some relatively easy hikes. One of the best places to get your footing is Briggs Boardwalk, a half-mile wooden walkway where you’ll spot several bird species, local fauna, and plants that thrive in the brackish water.

Since Rookery Bay is vast, at more than 110,000 acres, you’ll want to reserve a spot to stay nearby. While you could camp, booking a hotel room gives you a chance to cool down, clean up, and get a full night’s sleep in a comfortable bed. Before you plan your travel itinerary, check out Marco Island hotels for convenient, budget-friendly accommodations near your favorite hiking trails.

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

West of Rookery Bay, you’ll find Florida’s largest state park, the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, better known as the Amazon of North America. The natural movement of the water has shaped the Fakahatchee for millennia, and today, this linear swamp spans 20 miles by 5 miles.

While this place is great for canoeing and kayaking through the palm- and cypress-lined waterways, it’s also a fantastic hiking spot. Take it easy on the stroller-friendly half-mile boardwalk or take to one of the many more challenging trails. Bring your binoculars, as this park is the ideal bird-watching spot.

Collier-Seminole State Park

A short drive east of Naples and Marco Island, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary offers the ideal introduction to the Western Everglades. This 2.5-mile boardwalk is great for kids and visitors of all ages, and it will transport you through a variety of habitats, including a marsh, a wet prairie, and an old-growth bald cypress forest. Stay on the lookout for alligators, deer, and raptors as you stroll along this easy boardwalk.

Don’t forget your sunscreen, insect repellant, or waterproof hiking shoes when you visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary or other hiking trails in the area. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you, too, especially if you’re hiking in the summer.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Sandwiched between the Fakahatchee and the Everglades, the Big Cypress National Preserve spans 729,000 acres of swampland. You’ll find a diverse array of flora and fauna, including panthers, bobcats, alligators, herons, ghost orchids, red mangroves, and more.

When you hike Big Cypress, you can choose between sticking to designated trails or making your own trail. Be sure to get a backcountry permit if you’ll be forging your own path or try the challenging yet impressive Florida Trail, which stretches 38 miles through ancient cypress forests and sawgrass prairies.

The areas around Marco Island and Naples offer many opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Add the above stunning hikes to your list during your next visit to Florida’s Paradise Coast.

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Chelsie Jackson
Chelsie Jackson

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