Caloosahatchee Regional Park

Location: Alva, Florida

Webpage: Florida Regional Park

General Description: The Caloosahatchee Regional Park consists of 768 acres of pine flatwoods, scrub oak, cypress swamps and oak hammocks along the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida.  There are over 20 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails through the park, all separate from each other.  The southern section of the park is for hiking with trails along the river, into a hardwood hammock, and through a slash pine flatwood.  The northern section has two bike paths surrounded by a separate equestrian trail.  Cost is $5/day for parking.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) For a series of easy hikes this Regional Park was great.  The hike along the river has a few interpretive signs about the history and wildlife along the river and is about a mile in length.  The other main trail is a series of loops of about a mile each that begins with a hardwood hammock, followed by another mile loop through a slash pine flatwood, and finally another mile loop through a saw palmetto and cypress swamp.  All of the hikes are well maintained and very easy.

ParkSign

2) From the interpretive signs I learned about the history of the river, which connects Lake Ogeechobee to the Gulf Coast.  The river did not originally connect with the lake except when it flooded out its banks during the summer.  The river meandered on its way to the coast draining the area southwest of the lake.  For flood control, the river was punched through to the lake, dredged for a minimum of 20 foot depths, and straightened by cutting out all the oxbows.  This has drastically changed the ecosystem of the river, which is now brackish for much of its length, but it has created some beautifully maintained riverside property all the way to Ft. Myers.

3) The trail along the river provided some great views of life today on the river.

CaloosahatcheeRiver

4) The trail through the hardwood hammock was well shaded and cool on a Florida winter afternoon and made for an enjoyable stroll.  There were numerous signs of feral hogs grubbing in the dirt on both sides of the trail and in many patches extending into the forest.

TreeCoveredTrail FeralHogDamage

5) The trail in the pine flatwoods was more open, however, since they do not actively burn the area, the undergrowth was heavy limiting sightlines into the forest.  While the signs of the feral hogs were not as prevalent, you could still see areas they had dug up.

SlashPineFlatwoods

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