CREW Boardwalk II

Special to Southwest Spotlight Newspaper

When I was growing up kids played outside. There were three channels on the television, occasionally four on a clear day. The American lifestyle was different and a whole bunch less electronic. Who knew we’d be digitally tethered in so many ways and sitting still so much?

As a slave to my own computer monitor and smart phone I consciously made the choice to start getting outside more often. One of the other things I started doing was visiting some of the great parks and trails in the southwest Florida area.

The C.R.E.W. Marsh Trails is one of my favorite places to visit and to take friends for their first dose of Florida nature. C.R.E.W. stands for Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. C.R.E.W. is a rather important piece of real estate which is pivotal to the water supply of southwest Florida. As a bonus, there are miles and miles of trails for visitors to enjoy.

The trails are located on Corkscrew Road about 18 miles east of I-75. It’s an easy hiking trip especially if you may be new getting out of doors in Florida. The C.R.E.W. Marsh Trails are wide, flat and the ground is firm before rainy season starts. There’s even an observation deck to see across the preserve to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

There’s so much more to Florida that palmettos and pine trees. Florida is the land of flowers and there’s no better way to discover them than to walk the trails. From the tiniest wild flowers hiding an inch or two above ground to the blooming thistles there’s tiny bits of color everywhere. The most interesting thing about walking the trails is that you’ll never see the same thing twice. Even the flowers are different day to day; they’re often different by the end of the day than they were in the morning.

This is the perfect time of the year to experience C.R.E.W. The temperatures are cooler, the trails are fairly dry and the weather has been cooperative. Lately, the trails have had bumper crops of Lubber Grasshoppers. This year it seems like fewer dragon flies but I’ve seen a wide variety of butterflies over the last few months. The last trip down the trails we spotted a huge snake skin in a tree by the Pop Ash Slough trail.

Self-guided tours should be considered doable by just about anyone. There are maps and brochures at the kiosk and the trails are clearly marked. There are public guided tours plus many other events occurring all the time, just check the website for more info and follow along daily at

Like any other outdoor Florida sport if you’re going to hike C.R.E.W. plan wisely for your trip; water, hat, sunscreen, bug spray. You can even bring lunch and grab a picnic table on the trail. Just remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints. What you take into the C.R.E.W. with you is supposed to leave with you, too. That includes houseguests.


This article special to Southwest Spotlight Newspaper

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