Dillon Bonita Springs

Pet Friendly Trails and Boardwalks in SWFL

Just north of the Caloosahatchee River is a great little park called Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve (East). Caloosahatchee Creeks East is a little over a mile east of I-75 just off of Bayshore Road. I originally noticed this park when I visited Echo Global Farm last year. After a little investigating I realized there was also a Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve West, which is west of 75. In short, you could fill a good part of the day touring both locations.

Caloosahatchee_Creeks_Preserve_PhotosAs soon as the merciless September rains wrapped up I decided to tour this park and help my fearless pooch, Dill, blow some steam off on a walk around Sweetbay Trail. Besides being pet friendly this park is also an ADA compliant facility so it’s great for those who require a flat surface whether it’s for a wheelchair or stroller.

The park has about a 1.5 mile trail with a good portion of if constructed with plastic composite, wood-like boards. Live Oak Trail is all boardwalk and a fair portion of Sweetbay Trail is, too. In the marshy areas, the boardwalk is raised with curb rails so it’s safe for hikers of most ages and fitness levels. From the boardwalk hikers get to experience wildlife and nature at a safe distance. The majority of the trail and boardwalk is well shaded. There are a few benches for sitting plus a large viewing platform which overlooks the marsh areas closer to the river.

This park ended up being a reptile adventure because I was able to spot a harmless black snake plus a couple of five lined skinks on the trail. Skinks like the damp habitat and sun bathe on the boardwalk to warm up so odds are in your favor that you’ll see one. Try as I might to get a picture of the iridescent skinks, it just didn’t happen. I named them Abracadabra and Hocus Pocus because the moment I raised the camera to take a shot they were gone in a poof.

The shortest section of the trail called Fetterbush Trail is just a regular, old nature trail. While there is no boardwalk, it is manicured and the ground is fairly flat and firm. It is not exactly advanced hiking but a fun addition to the boardwalk trail. Best of all, the entire trail system is short enough for you to not lose the attention of children. If you’re just introducing them to nature preserves this is an ideal place to start.

On the way back to the car we ran into a very large gopher tortoise munching on the tall grass. It quickly became obvious that Dill is not amused by gopher tortoises. He’s a thug for a little dog but the minute that tortoise moved he quickly morphed into a little sissy and ran to the leashes end.

This is a great park to visit. There are several picnic tables set up under live oak trees near the parking area plus there are restroom facilities. Had I known about the picnic area in advance I would have ordered my Publix sub online and picked it up on the way. Next time!

Both Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve East and West are part of the Conservation 20/20 Preserve program of Lee County. They’re open from dawn to dusk. You can learn more about the preserves and the Conservation 20/20 program at www.conservation2020.org

Happy trail and boardwalks!


Special to Southwest Spotlight