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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

 

Walking the 2.25 mile elevated boardwalk trail at the 11,000 acre Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is not what it sounds like - tiring! It is instead a stroll through one of the most beautiful settings in Florida. Our wintertime walk provided an environment free of mosquitoes and other bugs, cool morning temperatures and just enough water in the water holes to create exquisite scenic pleasures. It was quiet, still and reminded us of a tabernacle of nature, a place to cleanse one's thoughts from the unpleasant consequences of cities and suburban life. Who would have thought, just a few miles east of Naples and Bonita Springs, Florida at such a placed called Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, such natural wonders would exist!

 

Is this just another swamp walk? Well, while you might see alligators, otters, turtles and great looking wading and forest birds, thanks to the boardwalk and some higher ground, you won't have to get your feet wet!  The boardwalk takes you through a slash pine forest, to a flat, grassy prairie and finally into the forest of bald cypress and pond cypress trees. It winds around in a long loop through the swamp, bringing you back to the entrance area and the entire elevated trail is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. It has a 1 mile shortcut for those not wanting to take the full tour, however, on the long way there's some of the most beautiful, striking scenery imaginable and fascinating glimpses of life in the swamp. You'll hear new sounds and try to match them with your surroundings and when it's time for a rest, you can stop and sit at one of many overlooks.

 

Some of the cypress trees in this forest are so old, and some have been here for almost 600 years, that they might have served as shady spots for the early Spanish explorers who first ventured into the wilderness of Florida in the mid-1500's. Today, they are massive reminders of our legacy of the past and our commitment to conservation for the future. Rising sometimes to 130 feet from the floor of the swamp, the tall cypress furnish cover, nesting areas and homes to other plants and wildlife. Spectacular, almost overwhelming as viewed upward from perches along the boardwalk, these giants tell the tale of Florida's history and pose as sentinels for the future.

 

The physical structure of the boardwalk is top-notch and it is kept in great shape. In addition to providing a dry tour through the swamp, it meanders in the grassy plains and slash pine forests surrounding the swamp, along the edges where the swamp meets the prairie and the most likely areas that deer, bear, panther and bobcat will be spotted. An added bonus is the seemingly omnipresent, friendly and knowledgeable volunteer staff of the Audubon Society, owner of the sanctuary, who will help with identification of wildlife or even provide suggestions for best experiences. Many carry communication devices, in order to be aware of the latest wildlife spotting, and courteous and timely exchanges with them can provide the visitor with the most up-to-date information available during the walk.

 

There is an administrative section and gift shop at the main entrance to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as well as restroom facilities. This is a good time to purchase souvenirs, t-shirts, hats and memorabilia, or better yet, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary guide book, or even an Audubon bird and/or wildlife field guide. Proceeds go to the Audubon Society so you'll be contributing towards the great projects in which the Audubon is involved. Audubon members get a healthy discount off the entrance fee but the cost for this adventure is not beyond the budget-minded non-member. Whether you're a naturalist or wannabe, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary should be on your short list.

 

The trail through the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is pristine and it is the desire of the Audubon Society to keep it that way. You can bring along a water bottle for refreshment but no drinks, food or smoking is permitted on the trail. One can easily understand that refuse would be a serious problem in such an unspoiled setting. Upon arrival, insure that everyone has a chance to go by the restrooms near the entrance; there are no facilities on the boardwalk.

 

 

 

 

 

Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Center

Corkscrew Swamp Blair Audubon Center

 

Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Entrance

Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Entrance

 

Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Boardwalk

Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Boardwalk Entrance/Exit

 

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Cypress Forest

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Cypress Forest (summer)

 

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Wild Hibiscus, Swamp Lily, Pickerelweed

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Swamp Hibiscus, Swamp Lily, Pickerelweed

 

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ARTICLES

 

Boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp

Boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp

 

Overlook at Corkscrew Swamp

Overlook at Corkscrew Swamp

 

The Cypress Forest at Corkscrew Swamp

The Cypress Forest (winter)

 

Red-Shouldered Hawk at Corkscrew Swamp

Red-Shouldered Hawk

 

Limkin at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Limkin

 

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