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Lover's Key State Park

 Lover's Key State Park is home to not only one of the country's top rated beaches, but also miles of easy paddling and hiking trails. 

Difficulty: 

Lover's Key, named for a renegade pirate that made the island his home and multitudes of lovers seeking seclusion, has been designated as a state park by the state of Florida.  Upon entering, it's easy to see why. Although the area has been populated on and off for the last several thousand years, with the Calusa Indians being the earliest known inhabitants, around the 1960s the islands that form Lover's Key were slated for development.Originally all saltwater mangrove barrier islands, the deep winding canals that are still there today were dug to raise the land enough for housing development. Today, mangroves and native Florida plants have reclaimed much of the area, but the canals still remain, primed and ready for your vessel. 

Lover’s Key is made up of coastal hammocks and is surrounded by both white sand beaches and red mangroves. The beaches and mangrove lined backwaters are accessible by canoe and kayak. Rentals are available at the park, and if you have your own, you can launch from the canoe and kayak ramp on the Southeast corner or from the bridge on Bonita Beach road. Upon taking to the water, you’ll have access to a 2.5 mile paddling trail, and the rest of Estero Bay through the access point just past mile marker 0.5.

You’ll be protected by the wind and some of the tidal action within the boundaries of the paddling trail, making for a relatively easy paddle.

Now here is what you’ll really want to know. The trail doesn’t only provide protection from the elements for paddlers, but also for resident wildlife. During the summer, expect to see copious amounts of manatees cavorting in the water along with rolling tarpon, wading birds, and TON of other fish. I am sorry to say that I had not packed my rod on the day of our latest adventure to Lover’s Key, but you can rest assured that I will return promptly to take advantage of secret hideaway. Nonetheless, the paddle was beautiful, and our encounter with a family of manatee was more than enough to make anyone’s trip worthwhile. They put on quite a show for all the paddlers in the water, splashing and playing along with coming up to the canoe for a quick inspection of the temporary visitors to their summer getaway.

You may also want to hop out of your boat and take a stroll along the Black Island and Eagle hiking trails. They have a rich history and a beautiful layout that will allow you to see what a real life coastal hammock, complete with the infamous ‘tourist tree’, a butterfly garden, and quite possibly buried treasure.

Get out on the water and check out Lover’s Key paddling trail! One of the best paddling experiences in Estero Bay, and a wildlife display that quite literally took my breath away…especially when they starting bumping the canoe!!  

 

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