The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) spans more than 60,000 acres in both Lee and Collier counties and provides natural flood protection, water purification, and critical aquifer recharge. The watershed also serves as important habitat for animal species such as the endangered Florida panther, snail kite and wood stork. CREW includes the CREW Marsh, Flint Pen Strand and Bird Rookery Swamp.
Three hiking trail systems provide a variety of recreational opportunities for all ages. They are the CREW Marsh Trails, the CREW Cypress Dome Trails and the Bird Rookery Swamp Trails.
At the CREW Marsh Trails, five miles of interconnected loops lead you through the open pine flatwoods, past seasonal ponds, sawgrass marshes and over shady oak hammocks. There are two boardwalks to help keep your feet dry and an observation tower so you can get a bird's eye view of the 5,000-acre Corkscrew marsh. At the Marsh Trails you can hike, geocache, bird, walk your dog on a leash and enjoy nature in a quiet setting. There is a primitive tent camping site 1.5 miles from Gate 3 near the Marsh Trails where you can camp with a Special Use License (SUL) from the SFWMD.
Directions to the CREW Marsh Trails: Travel I-75 to exit 123 (Corkscrew Road). Travel 18 miles east on Corkscrew Road You will pass the Cypress Dome Trails. Go another 4 miles and you will see the CREW Marsh Trails on your right. Look for the brown trailhead signs.
The Cypress Dome Trails (Gate 5) 3980 Corkscrew Road (C.R. 850) Immokalee, FL 34142
The Cypress Dome Trails offer 6.5 miles of trails through scrubby flatwoods, mixed oak/pine forest, between two cypress domes, and into seasonally wet popash slough. CREW is known for its spring wildflowers, although you are likely to find flowers blooming at any time of year. At the Cypress Dome Trails, you can hike, bicycle, geocache, walk your dog on a leash, hunt by quota permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) or horseback ride with a special use license from the SFWMD. Primitive camping is also available with a Special Use License (SUL).
Directions to the CREW Cypress Dome Trails: Travel I-75 to exit 123 (Corkscrew Road). Go 14 miles east on Corkscrew Road. The Cypress Dome Trails will be on your right just past a big curve to the north. Look for the brown trailhead signs.
The Bird Rookery Swamp Trails offer 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, including an 1,800-ft. boardwalk with wheelchair accessibility. Bird Rookery Swamp is adjacent to Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The trails are 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 many birds, including short-tailed hawks, swallow-tailed kites, and many songbirds and wading birds. At the Bird Rookery Swamp Trails, you can hike, bicycle, geocache, walk your dog on a leash and enjoy nature.
Directions to CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trails: From I-75, take exit 111 and turn east (away from Naples) on Immokalee Road (C.R. 846). Travel 11.4 miles and turn left onto Shady Hollow Boulevard. (One mile past the Oil Well Road stoplight – Shady Hollow is where Immokalee Road goes from 4-lane to 2-lane). Go to the end of Shady Hollow (approximately 1.5 miles). Parking lot is on the right.
For information about guided hikes, events, school field trips, and other programs offered at CREW, contact the CREW Land and Water Trust at (239) 657-2253 or visit www.crewtrust.org.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manages hunting on SFWMD lands. Please visit www.myfwc.com regarding current hunt dates, regulations and directions to check stations to ensure the most accurate and latest information.