In the heart of the Everglades ecosystem, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America making it a worthy stop on a cross Florida road trip.
Located 30 minutes east of Naples, The Sanctuary is home to not only a magnificent cypress forest, but a wide variety of plants and animals. Of course, you’ll see alligators and a wide variety of birds.
But, this is also panther habitat so visitors are encouraged to be on the lookout for prints of the endangered cat as well as prints and scat of bobcats and bears. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of evidence of these mammals.
The 2.25 mile boardwalk winds through the Bald Cypress forest with trees which reach as high as 130 feet and a circumference of up to 25 feet. Their branches are covered with moss, lichens, bromeliads, ferns and even the elusive ghost orchid.
As part of the Florida Birding Trail, songbirds, wading birds, woodpeckers and raptors are visible throughout the trail.
We were even lucky enough to see two young barred owls.
Of course, the cypress trees are the stars, with the Landmark Cypress marked along the trail. Named for environmental heroes, trees bear the names Muir, Roosevelt, Calusa (home of a ghost orchid) and Hemenway, named for Harriet Hemenway who worked tirelessly to convince women not to wear feathered hats.
It’s hard to call a visit to the Corkscrew Swamp a hike. With the numerous stops to view the flora and fauna, take pictures, and learn about the Landmark Cypress, it’s more likely to be a stroll through the forest.
This Audubon Park is open seven days a week from 7:00am to 5:30pm and is well worth the admission price of $14 per person.
Thanks to John for sharing his pictures.