Estero Bay Preserve State Park consists of approximately 10,000 acres and was acquired in 1966. The preserve was purchased in order to protect environmentally sensitive land from the impact associated with development. The preserve continues to grow as land becomes available.
The preserve has two locations to access trails. The Estero River Scrub entrance in Estero and the Winkler Point entrance in Fort Myers. This hike happens to be only 10 km (6 miles) from where we are staying. Bonus!
The parking lot is extremely small so I was glad I got there early. Parking Precious (my truck for those who don't know), is always fun. The trail head is fully equipped with a picnic area and bathrooms.
The Estero Scrub River location which is where we are has four separate trails. Each one offers something different. We are hiking the 2.5 mile Fiddler Crab Loop or Yellow Trail which winds through salt marshes.
Right away we could see a recent controlled or prescribed burn on one side of the path. This one did not jump the trail. These burns are so important to Florida's ecology, they help with new growth.
Another invasive tree to Florida is the Australian Pine. First introduced in the 1890s from Australia, this aggressive fast growing non-conifer is resistant to salt-spray making it the perfect tree for windbreaks along canals, roads, and fields. Today, possession of this tree with the intent to sell or plant is illegal in the state.
We have finally arrived at the salt marshes. During the summer months this trail is usually under water. Not so much water now. However, due to the high water levels left from Hurricane Irma, water is still present in this area. Good thing for hiking boots.
There are four different types of mangroves in Florida, white, red, black, and buttonwood. These happen to be white mangroves.
This was like being a kid again, wading through the muck. I was having a blast.
Evidence of feral pigs in the area
Mangroves that have died for one reason or another, just makes for a pretty picture.
Another invasive species in Florida is the Brazilian Pepper Scrub. Pretty but very aggressive.
At this point the water is over our ankles and I'm lovin' it. Another great hike.