4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes

By Laurén Ettinger

There is no better way to experience the natural beauty of Florida than getting out on one of the state’s many hiking trails. Florida’s low elevation and generally flat landscape make hiking easy for those of all ages and abilities. Hikes in Naples, Florida feature lush, dense vegetation, elevated boardwalks, sandy dunes, and are a paradise for birders. Read on for four of our favorite easy hikes in Naples, Florida.

Adventures Await! 4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes. There is no better way to experience the natural beauty of Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit William Silver/Shutterstock

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

The Florida state park system is one of the largest in the United States with a total of 175 state parks and is the only four-time winner of the state park Gold Medal honoring the best park systems in the country. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park has preserved a pristine stretch of white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico and the natural estuaries of the Cocohatchee River. While the park is a popular destination for anglers, beach goers, and kayakers, it also is an excellent destination for an easy hike. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown and costs $6 per vehicle.

4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes - Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park hiking trail Naples, Florida. Photo by Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Hikers can choose to walk the beach itself which spans over a mile to Wiggins Pass, traverse five miles of elevated board walks leading to the beach and picnic areas, or wind through the Nature Trail toward the observation tower. Beach wheelchairs are available. Regardless of the path you choose, you’ll want to bring along your camera and binoculars to view the many migratory and woodland bird species that live in the area including eagles, ospreys, and owls.

4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes - Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park hiking trail to observation tower Naples, Florida. Photo by Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Bird Rookery Swamp Trail

Hikers looking for a longer trail will delight in the Bird Rookery Swamp Trail which features 12 miles of hiking and biking trails. Trails were created from old tram roads used during the areas’ logging period. The trail begins with a ¼-mile crushed shell path leading to a 1,500-foot boardwalk. After the boardwalk the trail is a mixture of sand and grass on a slightly elevated berm with swamp on either side. Within the first 1.5 miles of the trail there are benches to rest on but no structures after that. Bird Rookery Swamp Trail can be hiked or biked from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset and is free (though donations are accepted).

The maple-cypress swamp provides refuge for many native Florida species including Florida panthers. It is also home to alligators, otters, bobcats, white-tailed deer, and an abundance of birds including barred owls and swallow-tailed kites. As the trail is located only inches above the swamp, it is not recommended for dogs and small children should be watched at all times. During the colder winter months, alligators can be frequently spotted sunning themselves on the trail.

4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes - Elevated trail at Bird Rookery Swamp Trail in Naples, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit Lisa Parsons/Shutterstock

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park 

The largest state park in the Florida park system offers a glimpse of plant and animal species that cannot be found elsewhere in the continental United States. The majority of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve’s hiking trails can be accessed off the Janes Memorial Scenic Drive, an 11-mile dirt road winding through the park. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset and costs $3 per vehicle. Make sure to pick up a hiking map from the visitor center on arrival.

4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes - Janes Memorial Scenic Drive in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park Naples, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit William Silver/Shutterstock

All trails within the park are old tram roads from logging activity between 1940-1960. There are numerous trails to be explored but the most popular is the 2,500-foot-long boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend. The elevated boardwalk takes hikers through a pristine section of cypress swamp and ends at an observation deck over a pond where alligators can frequently be spotted. The Jones Grade trail allows access to the Jones Grade lakes where you can fish, canoe, or kayak– swimming is not allowed. Hikers will also want to consider the East and West Main tram trails. The West Main tram is a 4-mile out-and-back through the strand swamp and a marle prairie. The East Main tram is 10 miles in total and connects the Janes Memorial Scenic Drive to the Jones Grade Trail. This trail is an excellent choice for bikers or hikers looking for a longer walk through the central slough, considered to be the most beautiful part of the park.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is located a short drive from Naples in Fort Myers, Florida. The Preserve covers over 3,500 acres of wetland, upland, and a seasonal slough. A slough (pronounced “slew”) is a narrow wetland with slowly flowing freshwater. The Preserve is open from dawn to dusk daily, but hikers that visit Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. can also see the Interpretive Center which has interactive exhibits and a small gift shop. Parking is $1 per hour with a $5 maximum (January 2020 prices).

4 Easy Naples, Florida Hikes - Elevated boardwalk at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit William Silver/Shutterstock

Six Mile Cypress Slough has a 1.2-mile elevated boardwalk loop, perfect for leisurely strolls and fully accessible to all. Make sure to pick up the Boardwalk Trail Guide which includes a map and wildlife viewing tips. Hikers should keep their eyes peeled for American alligators, blue herons, white ibises, roseate spoonbills, and more. The boardwalk leads deep into the cypress swamp, passed Alligator Lake and a number of smaller ponds. Observation platforms and fishing decks can be reached from small spur trails off the main boardwalk. Make sure to look up into the tree canopy for bromeliads and a number of different orchid varieties.

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Easy and Scenic Hikes to Take in Naples, Florida. Hikes in Naples, Florida feature lush, dense vegetation, elevated boardwalks, sandy dunes, and are a paradise for birders. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com
Photo credit William Silver/Shutterstock

Written by: Laurén Ettinger | Author Website

Laurén Ettinger runs the travel and vanlife blog Flit Float Fly Away where she shares travel tips and stories from life on the road with her dog. She is the Assistant Editor at Siesta Publications for Must Do Visitor Guides where she manages social media, writes blog articles, and assists in editing print and online copy. Laurén also works as a freelance copy editor and proofreader. She holds a M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Global Studies from Appalachian State University. Follow her adventures on instagram or her blog www.flitfloatflyaway.com

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