• Blue sky with white clouds reflecting in Gator Lake on a summer day in Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers Florida.
  • Alligator resting on log in pond at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers, Florida.
  • Elevated boardwalk trail Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Fort Myers, Florida.
  • Red metal alligator sculpture on pavement trail Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Fort Myers, Florida.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a 3,500-acre area of natural wetlands, lakes, cypress swamp, and forest in Fort Myers, Florida. The linear park stretches for 9 miles in length and is just 1/3 mile wide. 

What is a slough you ask? A slough (pronounced “slew”) is a long, narrow wetland with slowly flowing freshwater. Six Mile Cypress Slough empties into Estero Bay.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve can easily be explored on the 1.2 mile raised boardwalk that traverses this freshwater wetland ecosystem.

Visitors can all experience this peaceful preserve which has no admission fee, although there is a fee for parking ($1 per hour; $5 maximum Aug. 2021). Meters accept credit cards. 

History of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

This unique preserve is an oasis amidst the busy highways and neighborhoods in Fort Myers.  It is located on Six Mile Cypress Parkway, off Daniel’s Parkway and just five minutes west of I-75 exit 131.

The land was rescued from logging by a group of local residents known simply as the Monday Group. Concerned by how the forested wetlands of Florida were disappearing, they highlighted the potential loss of the slough. Lee County residents were spurred into action and increased their local taxes to purchase the land to create a preserve as an oasis for plants, animals and local visitors to enjoy. 

In 1991 Lee County Parks and Recreation opened the boardwalk, providing access and facilities for everyone to enjoy the natural preserve.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Interpretive Center

Start your visit at the Interpretive Center which has some excellent interactive exhibits and displays about Florida’s wildlife. 

Pick up a free Explorer’s Companion brochure and the Boardwalk Trail Guide. The Explorer’s Companion brochure has a series of numbered points of interest to help you identify some of the trees and wildlife in the preserve. The Boardwalk Trail Guide includes a map and wildlife viewing tips.

The Interpretive Center is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays. 

Pets are not allowed.

Admission is free with paid parking.

Six Mile Cypress Boardwalk Trail

The elevated and fully accessible boardwalk allows visitors to walk above the wetlands. There are two loops, observation decks, photo blinds, and benches for resting and observing wildlife activity. 

Wildlife you may see include many turtles, otters, alligators, a variety of birds including blue herons, woodpeckers, white ibis, roseate spoonbills, and more. 

The boardwalk is shady and largely free of mosquitos–even in summer. 

Look down into the undergrowth beneath the established pines, cypress, and hardwood hammocks where you’ll see a host of tiny flowering shrubs, vines, ferns, and other plants. Look up in the tree canopy for birds, bromeliads, and several orchid varieties.

The preserve includes several large ponds which are a haven for fish and wildlife. 

The Boardwalk is open daily from dawn to dusk.

Guided Wildlife Walks in Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

If you prefer to walk with a wildlife specialist, guided walks are offered. Times vary throughout the year so be sure to check their website or inquire at the Interpretive Center.