Wednesday, December 1, 2021

There’s an Adventure You Pass Multiple Times That You’ve Never Explored: Bet Ya!

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry
| The transition to the marsh is dramatic and we keep an eye out for gators, which luckily can’t climb up onto the boardwalk.


 

This is the estuary, and you can see the mangrove islands.

We all drive north and south on Collier Boulevard, aka State Road 951, often, to get to appointments, stores and restaurants in Naples or Marco Island and might ignore the side streets along the way, with the focus on getting to our destinations. There’s a narrow road off Collier Blvd, about a quarter of a mile north of the entrance to Fiddler’s Creek, on the opposite side of the road. The turn and road are non-descript and one could eye it while driving by and perceive it as a road to nowhere, but that’s not the case.

Recently, we loaded up our bikes, parked our vehicle in a designated place near the beginning of the road, and biked off down the road. There were others there making the same bike journey, but a lot faster than we biked because we stopped frequently to observe the natural surroundings and for me, ahem, to take photos.

Natural is the key word. This is a road without any development, except an extensive boardwalk that promotes guided tours through the natural, ancient Florida environment. Briggs Boardwalk is where we parked the bikes and started walking the circuitous free route while stopping to read the informational signs along the way.

 



 

Not only do you feel like you’ve gone back in time in this undisturbed environment, but there is a pure stillness there that wipes the noise of the world from your mind along with the trials and tribulations that pester you. This serenity is in stark contrast to the traffic of Collier Boulevard, which is so close. You can’t even hear the rush of vehicles when on the boardwalk, which is a gift, and the silence will soothe your soul you as you walk the path.

It would be exciting to see deer, otters, gators, birds, and raccoons in this area.

The information posted is relevant to the scenes that you observe. Whether you have meager knowledge of the area or are well-versed in the Florida ecology, there will be information that will enrich your psyche. There’s such a wide variety of plants, terrain, and wildlife that you can’t help but absorb something you didn’t know previously. Check out the photos that accompany this article and if you’ve seen any of these sights, consider yourself very fortunate.

Florida has such a diverse environment, unlike most other states in the U.S. From the time you start your experience on the boardwalk, you’ll travel from the dry scrub land with pine trees and possibly a gopher turtle sighting, to marsh and possibly a raccoon or gator sighting, to tidal water with mangrove islands, to higher elevation with an entirely new environment of trees, epiphytes, and flowers. There is a high elevation platform in a transition area that gives you a 360-degree view of this magnificent area.

If, after your hike on the boardwalk, you feel like exploring more, head farther down the road, past the Rookery Bay building and eventually you’ll end up at a boat/kayak/jet ski launching area. There’s ample parking and no fee to launch there. The fishing is great and there are many twists and turns in the backwaters to make things interesting. If that’s not your thing, you can hike without the boardwalk, amongst the mangroves and out to a memorial by the water. It’s also a good swimming hole! Have fun!

 



 

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