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“watch out for alligators!”

CREW Land & Water Trust - Bird Rookery Swamp Trails
Ranked #19 of 124 things to do in Naples
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail officially opened in July 2011. The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail offer 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, including an 1800-ft. boardwalk with wheelchair accessibility. A 1/4-mile crushed shell path leads to an 1800-foot boardwalk, then the trails become ground level, sandy/grassy relatively flat berms with swamp on both sides. The trails are actually old tram roads used when the area was logged many years ago. Biking can be a challenge on the grassy/sandy trails, but quite rewarding. The maple-cypress swamp is home to alligators, otters, Florida panthers, bobcats, white-tailed deer and more. There is one port-o-potty at the beginning of the boardwalk and several benches along the trail within the first 1.5 miles. Beyond that there are no structures. Birders will delight in the abundance of songbirds that frequent the cypress trees along the boardwalk, as well as the many raptors and wading birds found along the trails. Barred owls are common and swallow-tailed kites frequent the area in summer.
Boston, MA
Level 5 Contributor
25 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“watch out for alligators!”
Reviewed March 31, 2014

Funny thing...when we arrived, several folks had just completed a guided walk to find turkey vultures had destroyed the rubber and plastic stripping on their windshields and tops of their car (one man had his jeep attacked) while they were out having a glorious time. The ranger said this had been happening for a while, and the vultures were showing the same behavior in the Everglades. In the Everglades, people brought plastic bags to put over their windshield wipers, and tarps were provided. All this made my husband nervous because we had a rental car. So, he stayed behind. This sounds bad, but he had a fabulous time taking tons of pictures of the alligators and herons and egrets that made the area around the parking lot their home. I ventured out alone and probably had the biggest reward of my continuous search for trails in Southern Florida.

What a beautiful, quiet, isolated trail! Unlike Corkscrew, which we visited the previous day and loved, now you walk on the ground, on the same level as the wildlife. Honest-I almost stepped on an alligator not 2 feet off the trail! Satisfied that he was sound asleep, and fully conscious of the many "Leave the alligators alone" signs dotting the beginning of the trail, I took a few pictures and quietly went on my way. Because I was alone, there were only the sounds of the birds and rodents and mammals to delight my ears-some of which I could see, and some only hear in all the underbrush of the marsh. This marsh is teeming with animals. The same herons, egrets, hawks and other birds from the parking lot area of course also live in this rookery, and I was rewarded with their song and calls throughout. I only ventured a couple of miles in, not wanting to leave my husband for too long, but I would definitely return, armed with a tarp, to explore the further miles of this stunning location again. The path goes on for many many miles-maybe even 12-and I highly recommend you visit this extraordinary place. It differs from Six Mile Cypress Slough and Corkscrew, for example, because you have a path rather than a boardwalk-and it's much less populated by humans. It's unique from Lover's Key, because you are slightly more inland. So many choices!

One side note-as soon as we left the area and pulled into a parking lot to contemplate our next exploration, we were hit by a car trying to back into the space next to us. In that same rental car!

Visited March 2014
3 Thank chippie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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166 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Cleveland, Ohio
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Highlight of our trip”
Reviewed March 30, 2014

Earlier in the week we went on an airboat ride and a kayak trip to see wildlife, neither of them came close to this free park. My 13 year old son is really into wildlife and this was a dream to him. We felt like we were in a rain forest while we were walking on the path. We were fortunate enough to have met some people coming out before we went into the park because when we got up to the big alligator just passed the boardwalk we probably would have turned to go back if they didn't tell us we would be ok just passing him. I still can't believe we walked that close to a very large wild alligator and another very large one that didn't seem as sleepy as the big one. The huge snake we saw was a thrill and the birds were non stop. What a visit. My son can't stop talking about this place and how he wants to go back next year. I need to do a little more research into our safety near gators that are that large. The parking lot lake is amazing in itself. We had trouble leaving because of all the activity going on right in the lake near the parking lot, between the little gators and all the birds there was non stop activity.

Visited March 2014
2 Thank bees60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rochester NY
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“great bird watching”
Reviewed March 22, 2014

We went on a CREW hike guided by George Luther. It was very informative and interesting. We saw a painted bunting and many red shouldered hawks,

Warning: The vultures were attacking plastic trim on cars parked in the lot.

Visited March 2014
Thank RochesterRick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Knoxville, Tennessee
Level 5 Contributor
86 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Great Walk into Nature!”
Reviewed March 8, 2014 via mobile

Discovered this great conservation area about 19 miles northeast of Naples. Free! Guided walks on Wednesday. Plenty of parking. Part of the walk is a boardwalk but after you leave the boardwalk you are on a nice wide, firm even path. Just keep an eye out for the alligators, they also like the path.

Visited March 2014
Thank jmtjbt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Alligator Ali”
Reviewed March 3, 2014

Went twice, first time was a very informative guided tour, but unfortunately the weather was not great so there were no alligators visible. Second time was on a hot day and there were quite a few basking in the sun. A good trip if you want to see Naples animals, birds etc in the wild and not in a zoo. Would be dubious about taking very young children as the alligators are near to you when you pass them on the track.

Visited February 2014
2 Thank isseyb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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