Scenic Nature Hikes in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida is home to more than 5000 miles of hiking trails that are explored across two time zones.

Whether you're looking for hiking trails, wildlife viewing or just scenic picnic spots, it's well worth it to spend time in the dozen State Parks of Southwest Florida and explore the region's many County Regional Parks, preserves, and natural wonders. Known for its footpaths and bike trails, it caters to diverse interests and age groups.

  • Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve

A brackish water wetland area, the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is known to be the second biggest ecological park in Cape Coral. The crisscrossing boardwalk along the swamps is more of a walk than a hike. The boardwalk helps visitors enjoy the ecosystem without getting muddy. They also help retain the natural ecosystem. Many come here to spot wading and migratory birds, eagles, ibis and herons. Visitors can view wild otters, raccoons and even snakes along the walkway.

  • Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk

The Cypress Bend Boardwalk gets its name due to an old bald cypress that is surrounded by dense vegetation, tropical trees and poison ivy creepers. It boasts varieties of colorful ferns. Multiple species of orchids, bromeliad blossoms and the red berries of the dahoon holly are seen in the lush green surroundings.

The observation deck, situated towards the end of the boardwalk, helps visitors catch sight of alligators and Florida panthers. Herons and turtles can also be seen.

  • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Arguably one of the most sought after natural landmarks, it hosts one of the largest ancient cypress forests preserved in Florida and is home to endangered wood stork nests. Located approximately 15 miles east of Naples, Florida, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has a two and a quarter mile boardwalk that transports you into a spectacular green paradise.

Every season brings along something unique besides the resident turtles, butterflies, and birds. The rare species of ghost orchid blooms can be seen in August, while the winters bring in the painted buntings. Amidst the pine upland, a wet prairie, a cypress forest, and a marsh, there are interpretive signs that help identify plants and ecosystems.

  • Pine Island's Flatwood Preserve

A perfect spot for bird-watching, the preening bald eagles and soaring pink spoonbills are the most sought after. It also includes several miles of hiking trails to observe native wildlife and the wide variety of wading birds, turtles and even alligators!

The author is a nature photographer by profession and also an avid traveler and writer. His work leads him to various scenic places throughout the US, in which he gathers information for his readers. The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is one of his favorite places to visit in order to capture wildlife photographs.

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