Tucked away in north Naples is a secret 9 and 1/2-acre alcove for inexperienced hikers seeking an accessible path into the woods of Florida.
The Naples Preserve is a wonderful and welcoming escape during a Marco Island vacation with some pleasant views, potential wildlife sightings, and lovely nearby park amenities. The Naples Preserve contains a wide variety of plants and wildlife associated with one of the oldest ecological communities in Florida.
Below is a guide to everything you need to know about the Naples Preserve, and why you should add it to your list of quick morning or afternoon pit stops on your vacation escape to Marco Island.
The Naples Preserve is protected for many reasons. It is easily one of the oldest small ecological communities in the entire state and an important habitat for a variety of native local flora and fauna species, especially the gopher tortoise.
The area consists of sweeping pine flatwoods, which are spacious and open woodlands that coat many rural portions of the gulf coast of Florida.
Many delicate and thin pines scale high into the sky. Along the ground floor, foliage is extensive oak-rosemary shrubbery. This fragile vegetation spans the preserve, hiding the grass and covering virtually all its surface ground.
The main feature of the Naples Preserve is the boardwalk trail. This 0.4-mile nature walk weaves throughout the preserve, passing mostly shaded areas as you spot wildlife, admire the flowers, and appreciate the quiet escape. Benches are placed along the trail within boardwalk platforms. The trail is elevated off the ground floor so you can appreciate it all at a safe height.
Wildlife of the Naples Preserve
The preserve is most well-known for a lovely little reptile known as the gopher tortoise. These adorable creatures thrive in the flatwoods, snacking away at the foliage and hiding in nooks dug under shrubs and beside tree trunks.
The gopher tortoises have very few natural predators in these woodlands, and can easily survive upwards of 30 to 75 years or more. Keep your eyes peeled near small alcoves and holes, especially during the mid-day. There is a good chance you can find a turtle head poking out.
Other wildlife includes rabbits, butterflies, many seasonal birds that stop in the outskirts of Naples, and more. You can stop by the Pollinator Butterfly Garden, a dedicated butterfly spot, or sign up for one of the eco-tours during the high season. Visit the Naples.gov website for more.
Though the nature trail is not long and it has benches and shade, you should come fully prepared. Bring sunscreen and bug spray. Both will become essential tools for the trip if you wind up on the path in the middle of the day or towards the evening. These are the Florida flatwoods after all.
Try to come in the early morning for the finest experience. It is the best time to find wildlife, such as gopher turtles, trying to seek some shade for the coming afternoon.
Where is the Preserve?
The preserve is located at 1690 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, FL 34102. It is located directly alongside Fleischmann Park.
The two make for a great combination visit. You can check out the picnic pavilions, athletic courts, and play areas of Fleischmann Park and then escape on over to the quiet paths through Naples Preserve.
Both are located on the northern side of Naples right off Tamiami Trail. The preserve is about a 30-minute drive north of Marco Island, taking Collier Blvd to route 41 and Tamiami Trail North.
Nearby you also have the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, another worthy stop to explore after your time at the preserve, as well as plentiful restaurants along Tamiami Trail and Golden Gate Pkwy to keep you and your group full and happy.
Hours and Other Details
The Naples Preserve does not have official access hours, but access hours are recommended as sunrise to sunset.
For more details on the preserve, other local attractions, and some Marco Island beach rentals for your upcoming vacation stay, you can contact us at (239)-394-0514.