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Looking for an idyllic place to hike and immerse completely in a forest-bathing experience in Florida? Then head to Fort Myers (known as the gateway to Southwest Florida) through the I-75 highway to discover the blissful sanctuary of the Six Mile Cypress Slough, which is a 3,500-acre of wetland. Arriving here, one can enjoy the pristine setting of the swamps and listen to the cacophony of nature when hiking the 1.2-mile-long boardwalk trail. And if one is lucky enough, there is a chance to see some curious baby alligators along the way.

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Those visiting in the morning can see the swamp areas shrouded with a mild haze, hence giving this beautiful paradise a mystical look. Just by being here, one can completely feel recharged from the soothing sound of nature or by seeing the calm water mirroring the gnarly branches of the cypress trees that grow in the middle of the slough. Normally, this part of Florida has a tropical savanna climate, which is suited for the animals living here.

About The Six Mile Cypress Slough

Back in the 1970s, when Florida was experiencing a building boom, many green sanctuaries like the Six Mile Cypress Slough were on the verge of disappearing, but thankfully a group of Lee County students in an environmental science class voiced out to save the slough. With the collective effort of the whole Lee County community, today, many nature lovers can visit and experience the pristine beauty of the slough and its wildlife. There is a 57-square-mile watershed that drains into the slough. Between June and October, when there is the wet season, the slough is filled with three feet of water, thus attracting many animals.

Related: Elkhorn Slough: Why This California Estuary Is Worth Seeing?

Take A Leisurely Hike Along The Boardwalk - Six Mile Cypress Slough

If city life gets too overwhelming, then taking a small hike at the Six Mile Cypress Slough becomes a perfect solution in Florida. Florida is known to be a hotspot for adventurers seeking the outdoors, like kayaking its waterways or taking a thrilling airboat ride. But those who enjoy a laid-back setting can consider this fascinating slough, which is abundant with various avian residents, reptiles, and all kinds of plants and trees.

One can easily take a short hike as the slough is equipped with a 1.2-mile boardwalk, which has two loops with several benches to relax on. In addition, there is a designated spot to view the wildlife. Enjoy an hour hike along the boardwalk and take a couple of beautiful pictures of the natural scenery consisting of gorgeous air plants and wild alligators. This is the perfect place to listen to the chirping of the crickets or the buzzing sound of the cicadas.

See The Diverse Wildlife In The Six Mile Cypress Slough

The vast terrain of the slough is divided into different distinct sections related to ground elevations, types of soils, and water depths that are dependent on the seasons. For instance, the pine Flat woods area is tucked on the higher elevation of the sanctuary, whereby the terrain is rather sandy and dryer than the adjacent wetland. Here, visitors will see many green slash pine trees which are adapted to this type of environment. This area is also home to a thriving community of wild animals such as white-tailed deer, bobcats, and wild turkeys. Besides, there is also an abundance of Laurel Oak trees which provide oak nuts for animals like the gray squirrels, wood duck, and blue jay.

Related: 9 Most Exciting Camping Spots In Florida

Right in the middle of the slough lies a wetland made up of sandy loam and water, which forms an ideal environment for a dense forest canopy to grow, including the gnarly old cypress trees. Thanks to the lush green plants and trees here, the evaporation process of the water slows down, creating a perfect climate for the wildlife to live in. Visitors will also be able to see some air plants like the wild orchids and bromeliads. There will be many opportunities to spot alligators, turtles, herons, and pileated woodpeckers when hiking.

  • Address: 7751 Penzance Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33966, United States
  • Opening Hours: 07:00 a.m - 06:00 p.m
  • Interpretative Center: 10:00 a.m - 04:00 p.m (closed on Mondays)
  • Guided Walks: January-March 9:30 a.m (daily); May-October 9:30 a.m (on Wednesdays); April, November, and December 9:30 a.m (daily)
  • Amenities: Boardwalk; Amphitheater; Hiking Trails; Pavilion; Viewing Areas; and Restrooms
  • Parking Fee: The parking fee is $1 per hour for a vehicle, with a maximum of $5 per day.
  • Note: Lee County Annual Parking Stickers are accepted at the Six Mile Cypress Slough. It is recommended to arrive 30 minutes early to register at the boardwalk entrance.

Don'ts:

  • Feeding any animals in the natural reserve is prohibited as it can be dangerous for wild animals and people.
  • Smoking on the boardwalk is not permitted.
  • Do not pollute the environment when visiting the slough.
  • Do not bring pets along.