Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve Loop

The Four Mile Cove hike is a short boardwalk loop through a dense mangrove forest on Florida’s gulf coast with two short excursions out onto the Caloosahatchee River.

Location Elsewhere
Rating 2.4 out of 5
Difficulty Easy
Distance 1.9 miles
Duration 0:51 hours moving time (hiking)
Elevation Gain 15 feet
High Point 22 feet (trailhead)
Low Point 0 feet (sea level)
Trail Type Loop
Trailbed Boardwalk, gravel
Water Drinking fountain at visitor center
Status Conservation Area
Administration tba
Conditions Excellent
Permits None required
Camping None. Toilets near trailhead
Maps USGS Fort Myers
Trailhead From Del Prado Blvd in Cape Coral take SE 21st Lane east for a quarter mile, then turn right onto SE 17th Place. Continue for another quarter mile, then turn left onto SE 23rd Terrace. Continue into the park, just over a mile. At the park entrance is a sign pointing left for kayak rentals; that’s not where the trail is. Instead continue straight towards what is signed as the Iwo Jima memorial. The trail starts on the left, a bits ahead of the memorial. There is ample parking.

Google Directions (26.608344, -81.918808)

Season Year-around
Squirrel Density Dogs are not allowed
Features Lake, Riverwalk, Grove
Distance From
  • Coeur d’Alene 2903.9 miles
  • Lewiston 2956.3 miles
  • Sandpoint 2925.0 miles
  • Seattle 3214.4 miles
  • Spokane 2936.5 miles
Resources
Date October 12, 2017

Most of the trail is boardwalkThe trail starts on your left, ahead of the visitor center, a boardwalk meandering through a mangrove forest. The forest is rather dense, limiting views to the trees, but the sounds of the birds and the rustle of the wind in the trees are just as fascinating as what you see. Of the over 50 types of mangroves, three are predominant in this forest: white, especially in the first section of the hike, black, and red, the latter near the waterfront. The trees play a crucial role in feeding and providing shelter for wildlife, including fish and shellfish, herons, egrets, and otters.

Calooshatchee RiverA quarter mile into the hike, a trail branches off to the left, crosses a tidal creek, and moves out onto the Caloosahatchee River for grand views across the water toward Fort Myers as well as the thick wall of red mangroves ringing the near shore. The trail then continues north to a dead end at Lost Pond, accessible only by kayak. Retrace your steps, then head southeast through the mangroves, leather ferns and rushes to a cluster of dead trees, hit by lightning, and a sprinkling of coffee trees. As the boardwalk ends, it one more time ventures out onto a pier overlooking the Caloosahatchee near the Midway bridge. Then the trail shifts westwards towards the trailhead, a gravel and shell path now, bordered by a variety of different trees, including live oak, turpentine tree, palm, and ficus. It spills out onto the access road just east of the memorial.

Enjoy this hike? Let us know in the comments below!

Access road
Access road
Most of the trail is boardwalk
Most of the trail is boardwalk
There are several benches sprinkled throughout
There are several benches sprinkled throughout
Mangrove is the dominant tree
Mangrove is the dominant tree
Tidal creek
Tidal creek
Leather fern
Leather fern
Opening in mangrove forest
Opening in mangrove forest
The boardwalk is well-maintained
The boardwalk is well-maintained
View of Calooshatchee River (towards Fort Myers)
View of Calooshatchee River (towards Fort Myers)
Red mangrove thickets
Red mangrove thickets
Pier out on river
Pier out on river
More mangroves. The roots are submerged at high tide
More mangroves. The roots are submerged at high tide
Lost Pond, accessible only by kayak
Lost Pond, accessible only by kayak
Holes created by fiddler crabs
Holes created by fiddler crabs
Getting tired of mangroves yet?
Getting tired of mangroves yet?
The little "suckers" shooting up are actually the roots of the mangroves sending up snorkels for air
The little “suckers” shooting up are actually the roots of the mangroves sending up snorkels for air
Another pier out onto the river near the Midpoint Memorial Bridge
Another pier out onto the river near the Midpoint Memorial Bridge
Calooshatchee River
Calooshatchee River
A gravel trail completes the loop
A gravel trail completes the loop
Iwo Jima memorial at trailhead
Iwo Jima memorial at trailhead
Trailmap

© 2016 – 2017 NaughtyHiker. All rights reserved. No duplication without permission.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. montucky says:

    Interesting. A little different from the Pacific Northwest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. naughtyhiker says:

      Sure is. 90 degrees and 90% humidity—won’t find that in the Inland Northwest in the middle of October …

      Liked by 1 person

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