Mound Key Wild Cotton_PM

Things to Do in SWFL – SUP Paddle to Mound Key

Since the gulf and river water returned to reasonable temperatures this summer, I’d been dreaming of a paddle across the bay to Mound Key. For those of you who don’t know there is a roughly 100 acre tuft of land in the middle of Estero Bay and it’s called Mound Key. It’s also a state archaeological park. It’s so far off the proverbial beaten path you actually need a boat to get to it or in my case, a standup paddleboard.

As luck would have it I stumbled onto a local group of standup paddleboard enthusiasts, the SWFL SUP Club, who had a Facebook group event planned to cross the bay from the Fort Myers Beach draw bridge to Mound Key. They were nice enough to allow me and a few of my friends to tag along. Unbeknownst to us, they arranged to bring along a guide who shared tips about the area and the history of the Calusa Indians who had inhabited Mound Key some two thousand years ago.

We set off from the shore and with the tide and, with the wind cooperating, our group of twenty paddlers landed at Mound Key quickly. It only took about thirty minutes to get to there. The weather this time of the year is beautiful so the trip seem much faster.

Once we arrived at Mound Key we entered at the cove on the northwest side and immediately hit the designated trail to hike across the island. The trail is established and fairly easy to walk but know that it is rough and downright muddy in some spots. There is some uphill climbing but a great view at the top so it’s worth it. Shoes would be a really good idea because the primitive trail is dirt and shells.

There is no ranger on site at Mound Key. This is a do-it-yourself tour so you’d be wise to do a little internet research so that you’ll understand what you’re looking at along the trail and on the Key. For example, wild cotton grows on Mound Key. Who knew there was wild cotton in southwest Florida to begin with? There are interesting critters like the spiny orb weaver spider, tons of native plants and even butterflies. You might be surprised when to see goats out there. A small part of the island remains privately owned and currently stocked with resident goats.

If you’re interested in visiting Mound Key, there are a variety of paddle craft outfitters in the area who will gladly give you more information about planning a group outing. You could always rent a boat and do it the easy way, too.

Be sure to check the online maps to find the cove entrance to site and visit for a downloadable brochure about Mound Key. Have fun when you go but remember not to remove anything from the island. Even most average looking shell or stone could be considered a historically valuable artifact and it’s against the law to remove any artifacts.

A photo video of the paddle trip is located at Feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions.




This article special to Southwest Spotlight Newspaper

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