This is Segment 12, Region F. The dominant feature in this segment is The Great Calusa Blueway. This 190-mile network of marked trails in Lee County extends from Pine Island Sound to up the Caloosahatchee River and down to Bonita Springs. The trail also coincides with the circumnavigational trail for several miles.
The northern edge of this segment, Cayo Costa State Park, is accessible only by boat. If you're starting from the mainland but want to spend time at Cayo Costa without paddling, a park service ferry can transport you and your belongings for about $25.
While in the Cayo Costa neighborhood, be sure to stop at Cabbage Key, where there is a popular restaurant and lodge. After enjoying a "cheeseburger in paradise", return to Pine Island to the northern- most town of Bokeelia. Here you'll find Jug Creek Cottages for an overnight stay.
If traveling south on the circumnavigational trail, paddle east of Pine Island through Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve and south to the artsy fishing village of Matlacha. Beyond Matlacha lie Picnic Island and the Koreshan State Historic Site.
The romantic sounding Lovers Key / Carl E. Johnson State Park is an ideal place to end this segment. Once the possible hideout of the pirate Black Augustus, this cluster of barrier islands is the perfect place to hike, bike or land your kayak. Unfortunately for most lovers, camping is not allowed in the park.
Two short river trails, Estero River and Hickey Creek, also attract paddlers who seek wild beauty. At the end of the Estero River is Mound Key, once a major village site of the Calusa Indians and now public property. The summit affords a panoramic view of the area. The 50-mile paddling trail along Fisheating Creek is also a huge attraction. This remote waterway that feeds into Lake Okeechobee is considered one of the best places for stargazing due to the absence of city lights.
57.5 miles of Circumnavigational Trail
1 county blueways system
2 state designated river trails
- Extreme caution should be taken in paddling to and from Cayo Costa and in crossing the various passes. Due to currents and boat traffic, these open water crossings should only be attempted by experienced paddlers in favorable weather conditions along the bay side.
Primary Campsites & Distances Between on Circumnavigational Trail
- Cayo Costa to Jug Creek Cottages, 11 miles
- Jug Creek Cottages to Matlacha, 9.5 miles
- Matlacha to Picnic Island, 12 miles
- Picnic Island to Koreshan State Historic Site, 17.5 miles
- Koreshan State Historic to Lovers Key State Park, 7.5 miles
- Great Calusa Blueway (190 miles)
- Estero River (9 miles)
- Hickey Creek (8 miles round trip)
- Fisheating Creek (50 miles)
- Police, Fire and Medical Emergencies: 911
- Lee County Sheriff: 239-477-1000
- Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission Hotline: 1-888-404-3922
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