When you think about prime hiking locales, Southwest Florida probably doesn’t make your top 10 list, maybe not even the top 100. But a new book featuring our region might just change your mind — and open your eyes to a lot you didn’t know about this place we call home.
The concise format includes a hike summary, map, driving directions to trailheads, GPS coordinates, photographs and trail notes. The summary chart and map sites each of the hikes and rates the trails by difficulty, distance, time and highlights, making it easy to look for the site and type of hike you’d like. Molloy, author of dozen of similar guides covering the Southeast, also offers useful tips for Southwest Florida hiking in general, whether warm or cool.
You won’t get in over your head unless you try hard — no waist-deep wades through the swamp here — but distances can range from an easy 1-mile walk to a more challenging 6-hour-plus trek. This guide works well for novices, but will allow even the more experienced hikers to find something to their liking — except vertical challenges, of course, this being the flatlands of Southwest Florida.
These trails are also a good reminder of the value that land preservation brings to our region. Most of these hikes are at places that might not exist except for the conservation efforts of numerous local people, groups and governments – and the natural sights which are yours to enjoy are also possible only because habitat for all these species has been saved from decay or destruction.
So, if you want to take your walk to the next level or just miss the chance to hike in your new semi-tropical home, pick up a copy of Molloy’s latest and explore your own backyard. You’ll find some interesting places just a few steps away — literally.
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at BikeWalkLee.org.
• “Day Hiking Southwest Florida: A Guide to the Best Trail Adventures in Greater Naples and Fort Myers” by Johnny Molloy / University of Florida Press
• Cost: $16.95
• Saturday, May 3: Run for Kayla 5K, 7:30 a.m., Patriot Elementary School, Cape Coral. $25 before May 2, $30 after. (3dracinginc.com)
• Saturday, May 10: Turtle Trot 5K, Lovers Key State Park, 8 a.m. $25 to May 3; $30 to May 9, $35 day of. (ftmyerstrackclub.com/)
• Saturday, May 17: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7:30 a.m. $25 in advance, $35 day of. (ftmyerstrackclub.com/)
• Monday, May 26: Memorial Day 5K Run on the Green, Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers, 7:30 a.m. $20 in advance, $30 day of. (ftmyerstrackclub.com/)
Cycling & other events:
• Wednesday, May 21: Ride of Silence, 7 p.m. Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers (under the Bridge at Heitman and Bay Streets). Cyclists will ride in a silent funeral-style procession at 10-12 mph for 8 miles to honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Riders are requested to wear black arm bands or red if they have been injured in a cycling versus motor vehicle accident. More details caloosariders.org/rosfm. Everyone welcome. Free of charge. No registration necessary.
• Sunday, July 6: Wheels and Wings V Bicycle Ride. 62/32/15 mile rides and a 10-mile gentlemen’s mass start race within the 62-mile route. Speed Trap Alley -- break the speed limit and receive a written warning from Punta Gorda Police, suitable for framing. Mystery Ride for the 15 milers. Beef O’Bradys 1105 Taylor Road, Punta Gorda. $30 includes ride, SAG stops, T-shirt, 10 Wings and two drinks (peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com/)
• Saturday, May 10: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Triathlon, Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7 a.m. (active.com/)
• Sunday, May 18: Lake Avalon Reverse Dualathon and Triathlon. Sugden Regional Park, Naples. Run/bike/swim or run/bike. $79 in advance, $99 day of, $119 teams (eliteevents.org/lake-avalon-reverse-duathlon-and-triathlon.html)
• Sunday, June 1: 28th annual Fitness Challenge Reverse Triathlon. Run/bike/swim, sprint distance. The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, 851 Gulf Shore Blvd., Naples. $95 individuals, $180 teams. (thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE
Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.