CALUSA LAND TRUST CANOE, KAYAK AND WALKING TRAILS
Back Bay Preserve - Canoe & Kayak Trail & Hiking Trail
The trip begins at the end of Oleander in St James City. Launch at the beach and paddle 1 miles east along the shore of Pine Island until you reach the entrance to the bay on the left. The trail heads northwesterly between two small mangrove islands then along the west edge of Back Bay. It then heads due west and loops around a small mangrove island to return back to the bay. A very interesting, marked, side trip starts at the northwest corner of the loop and heads northwesterly through a beautiful mangrove tunnel. If you do a short portage at the end, it will take you into the boat channel. Go north, then east to return to the bay. Otherwise, you can retrace your steps back out the mangrove tunnel.
Back Bay Marked Trail and Directions to Launch
VISIT Back Bay preserve
Fritts Park / Big Jim Creek Preserve - Canoe & Kayak Trail
Great news! The Fritts Park Canoe & Kayak Trail has been cleared of Hurricane Charley debris and is once again navigable all the way to Pine Island Sound (only at medium to high tide, as always).
This lovely paddling trial is a birders paradise as it winds its way down a series of channels, under the mangrove canopy, through Big Jim Creek and on out to the sound. One can catch glimpses of green heron and yellow crowned night heron in the mangrove tunnels. The shallow sand bars of Big Jim Creek are frequented by great blue heron, white ibis, American egret, and occasionally, if you're lucky, you might spot a handful of roseate spoonbills or a raft of white pelicans. The trail is a major link to the sound and the outer barrier islands. There is also a northern section to the trail that creates a loop back to the first canal. There are many interesting ponds and hidden coves to explore, as well.
In collaboration with Lee County Parks and Recreation, this site will be highlighted as a canoe & kayak launch on the map of Phase II of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. Marking of Phase II of the Blueway is nearly complete, connecting it with Phase I of the trail at Bunchee Beach in Fort Myers, by the Sanibel Causeway. It comes north then branches at Pine Island, one side heads west and north up Pine Island sound next to the barrier islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa, the other branch heads east and north up Matlacha Pass. The Calusa Land Trust has designated six places on its preserves as highlights on the Blueway. They include Picnic Island, designated as a camping area; Back Bay Preserve in Saint James City & Underhill Creek Preserve, both designated as paddling trails; the Saint Jude Trail, designated as a hiking trail/rest stop; Shell Cut on Calusa Island in Bokeelia, designated as a picnic/rest stop; and Fritts Park, designated as a canoe & kayak launch.
The canoe launch is at the northwest corner of Fritts Park. The park is located at the end of Beach Daisy Lane, a dirt road heading west off of Stringfellow about five miles north of Pine Island Center. The trail heads west and south following a series of mosquito ditches to Big Jim Creek, then westerly out to Pine Island Sound. It is approximately one mile from the launch site to Pine Island Sound. There are some interesting side trips that can be made in Big Jim Creek. Access to the creek from Pine Island Sound is about two miles north of Pineland Marina. This trail requires a medium to high tide to be navigable.
Fritts Park / Big Jim Creek Preserve
Marked Trail and Directions to Launch
visit Fritts Park / Big Jim Creek
Kreie Preserve - Canoe & Kayak Trail & Peter Ordway Tropical Hammock Hiking Trail
There are a few launch sites in Bokeelia for this trip. The closest is Jug Creek Cottages, run by Tropic Star, where a small launch fee is charged. Call ahead 239-283-0015. Follow the Jug Creek boat channel west towards Pine Island Sound. Turn south into the small bay just before marker #14 and continue heading in a generally southerly direction. The trail runs through Big Jim Creek Preserve, winding between mangrove islands and through a few mangrove tunnels down to a small bay where it then turns northwest and heads up to Burgess Bay. The trail then heads north and the Kreie Preserve is on the east side of the bay, just before reaching the cut that heads back to Jug Creek boat channel. There are plans for a small dock at the preserve landing but currently there is a large opening in the mangroves and a small trail through the mangroves to a beautiful tropical hardwood hammock. The canoe trail then heads north and northeasterly through the cut back to Jug Creek boat channel at about marker #22.
Kreie Preserve - Marked Trail and Directions to Launch
visit Kreie Preserve
Saint Jude Nature Trail
On Pine Island in St. James City on Laratonda (which becomes Stabile Road) off Stringfellow. 1/2 mile nature trail with labeled native trees and plants. Magnificent view of the islands of Malatcha Pass at the trail's end.
Saint Jude Nature Trail - Marked Trail and Directions to Launch
visit Saint Jude Nature Trail
Shell Cut Hiking Trail, Calusa Island Preserve
visit Shell Cut
Dobbs Preserve Hiking trail & Underhill Creek Canoe & Kayak Trail
This trip begins at the Lee County Park at the end of Tropical Point Drive. The 1 mile paddle northeast across Matlacha Pass to the entrance of Underhill Creek can be a challenge in windy weather. The entrance to the creek can sometimes be difficult to find. It is the first creek south (about 1/3 mile) of the overhead power lines The trail follows the creek in a northeasterly direction ending with a circumnavigation of a small mangrove island, then back out to Matlacha Pass. This creek requires a medium to high tide to be navigable.
Dobbs Preserve / Underhill - Marked Trail and Directions to Launch
visit Dobbs Preserve Hiking trail & Underhill Creek Canoe & Kayak Trail