Galt Preserve Pine Island Florida
When I learned that Galt Preserve was cutting the ribbon and opening the trails to the public I decided to organize a girls daycation. Dill, my fearless pooch, was left behind and my one year old granddaughter, Madison, did her best to fill his tiny shoes. Angela, Madison’s mom, came to supervise us both.
A trip to the Galt Preserve in St. James City, Florida is like a great escape in more ways than one. St. James City is on Pine Island. There’s only one way to get to Pine Island on wheels and that’s by driving through Matlacha which serves as an effervescent threshold to the past. Once you cross the Matlacha draw bridge and pass artists cottages you’re on your way to a slower paced Pine Island without a single traffic light and very few franchise based businesses. With exception of the couple of restaurants and the Winn Dixie, Pine Island is mostly mom and pop businesses. It’s reminiscent of Bonita Springs 30 years ago.
We decided to go to Galt Preserve early and catch the speakers who cut the ribbon and then we toured a few of the trails and look-outs. This preserve is labor of love for both conservations and locals who saw the importance of preserving a part of the island for nature while still allowing people to have access to the property. The movement began with members of the Galt Island homeowner association donating the initial funds to secure the first portion of the land. In total, 265 acres was eventually preserved with the assistance of Conservation 2020, the Calusa Land Trust and a Florida Communities Trust grant.
The Galt Preserve offers hiking, bird watching, nature photography and fishing. There are about 2.5 miles of walking trails which are a mixture mowed prairie paths, raised mulch paths and wood-like boardwalks over marsh areas prone to hold water during the rainy season. Parts of this park are ADA compliant with a section of smooth, asphalt paths from parking to one of the lake front look-outs and the restroom facilities. There are also a couple of covered picnic areas so you can pack a lunch to enjoy on site, too.
This park is great for the bird watchers and photographers because of the many types of birds that can be spotted on site. The stars of the show are a nesting pair of eagles that can be easily seen both in the nest and in flight, if you’re patient and keep a watchful eye.
Galt preserve is not only family friendly, its pet friendly, too. Dogs on lead are permitted. We actually ran into a few dogs, including a service dog in training, while on the trail. Madison was able to test the dog’s patience with a complimentary dental exam. A true field study passed by all parties involved.
If you don’t pack a lunch for the preserve be sure to treat yourself to dinner at one of the many locally owned waterfront seafood restaurants before you leave the island. We happened to have stopped at a restaurant called The Waterfront and enjoyed fresh grouper before we headed back to Bonita Springs and the bustle of tourist season on the mainland.
Galt Preserve is located at 3661 Stringfellow Road, St. James City, Florida on Pine Island. You can learn more at www.conservation2020.org. Happy trails and boardwalks!
Special to Southwest Spotlight