Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Six Mile Cypress Slough with Mike and Terri

Friday February 13, 2015
Koreshan State Historic Site
Estero, Florida



We’re getting some great hikes in during our last week in this area.  Yesterday we spent a wonderful day at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and we’re out again today for similar fun.

Earlier this week when we met up with Mike and Terri we visited each other’s parks.  This time they suggest we get together and check out Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve which is located between the two of us.  Great idea!

We meet them there at 8:30 for the 9:30 tour which takes only 20 people, first come first served.  We need not have worried because on this Friday the 13th apparently only 11 people weren’t afraid to come out for a hike in a slough on this superstitious day.

This is a very active preserve being in the middle of such an urban area.  We are later told it is being loved a bit too much by too many visitors.  They have very creative art installations in the parking lot.  Do you recognize the Great Blue Heron and his tail feathers??



Now for those who don’t know,  a slough is soft muddy ground, a swamplike region.  In this case the slough is part of the ancient everglades waterway when once upon a time Lake Okeechobee was allowed free reign to dispose of its overflow in rivers of grass. 

Some of that over flow flowed through here.   Apparently in 1977 a local high school group had an outdoor classroom with their teacher here learning about the web of life and the interconnectedness of all things which is really apparent in these environments.  This was private land at that time and they were given permission to use it for this educational purpose.  The students and their teacher got wind that the land was to be sold for development and the class became activists in local politics.  How to lobby, how to prepare petitions, how to talk to government officials and the upshot was that the citizens of Lee County passed a bond referendum in perpetuity to save and maintain this over 3400 acres of wetlands, about 11 miles long and 1/3 of a mile wide, in Fort Myers Florida.  The slough serves as a wildlife corridor.   This is education at its best and I tip my hat to their teacher.




The slough is open dawn to dusk everyday and has a nice small interpretive center open 10-4 every day but Monday.

We are taking a 90 minute walk on the 2.1 mile boardwalk.  The walk is led by one of the volunteers who make up the preserve’s friends group.  They are a very active group which run the interpretive center, do the guided walks and have a number of free and extremely low cost programs I would definitely try were I here longer.  Such as every full moon they do a swamp walk.  I LOVE swamp walks and this is only the second one I know of.   Check out the programs on the Slough website.   They even have yoga.   Now Yoga in a slough is something I’ve never done. 


The tour group meets up at the Tiki Hut. No drinks, just tours. We are given colored lanyards to wear around our necks that say Guided Walk. They will loan you a small pair of binoculars if you don’t have your own.  Binoculars are a very good idea here. Our guide tells us we’ll only be doing part of the boardwalk.  We’ll go up by Gator Lake, cut through over to Otter Pond, go down the other side by Pop Ash Pond and out again through the lollipop stick. one side,




The lollipop tail of the trail takes us into a cypress swamp which is currently being covered by a group of ibis and one Great Egret front man.  He was fairly far away from the boardwalk when we came up but soon after we did he came literally running up and started showing off and shoving the ibis out of the way.  It was hilarious.






He’s in his breeding plumage and is looking very fine.







We left the entertainer to the next group that came along and further down the boardwalk ran into the infamous feral hogs also right along the side of the boardwalk.   A sow was tearing up the habitat looking for whatever she looks for and her 10 piglets were running around.  Our guide told us she was a young sow probably only a year or so old and could have two such litters this year.  I was wondering where the Hog Control Patrol was.   She had already ripped a long wide path through the vegetation.






Several people in the group said “oh aren’t they cute”.  Boy not to me they aren’t.  The are invasive species and seriously damaging to the natural environment. 




While we all took pictures, a second adult came up.  We weren’t sure if it was the boar or another female. 






From there we walk on around to Gator Lake which was created when the area was dug out for fill to elevate the Causeway that unfortunately goes right by the preserve and is never out of earshot.  The birds and gators seem to like it dispute the traffic noise. 

All the birds are across the water on the other shore and a bit difficult to get pictures of although easily visible through binoculars.





People tend to gather at the platforms overlooking the water.  We actually enjoyed strolling along the boardwalk and seeing the vegetation and colors of the slough.  These are some of my favorite pictures of the day.









One of the platforms is a “blind” so that hopefully more wildlife will be undisturbed by the presence of people.  Of course if they are all talking in their normal voices it won’t matter much.




We did see an anhinga drying his wings and the black crowned night heron who looks like he’s all hunched over just behind the cypress knee.





More beauty along the boardwalk.


The epiphytes are showing off their color today.














We arrive at the Pop Ash Pond and see an osprey in the tree tops across the pond.


Down by the water is one of my very favorites the green heron.  I love his colors.


In the mangroves I spy a black crowned night heron and he makes me laugh out loud at his antics. 




Each of the bodies of water in the preserve seems to have a floating island in the middle.  Two cormorants on this one.









We’ve come to nearly to the end of our walk when we pass again by the Great Egret who seems now to be giving someone a piece of his mind.




Time for lunch.  The only picnic tables are under this canopy with Great Blue Heron tail feathers on its roof.  Having just eaten at a parking lot picnic table I vote for searching further afield.   On the way we pass this sign.  Perfect for a preserve.  It’s clear these folks have a sense of humor.  How about an alligator bike rack??







The preserve has a small but  excellent and informative visitor center with a simply gorgeous mural on one side.  I think I caught Mike and Terri unawares.  Sorry guys.




The artist, Erma Jean, has done a simply gorgeous job of painting the preserve in soft gentle realism. I can’t stop looking at its exquisite detail.  I commend the center for commissioning this work. 







After exploring the center and its shop, we go outside onto the large deck where looking over we see this White Peacock butterfly who flits from flower head to flower head in this low growing ground cover surrounding the back side of the center.

We also notice the rocking chairs on the deck and decide this is a great place for our lunch.  It’s chilly in the shade today even with our heavy clothing so we move them into the sunlight to warm us up.







After lunch, we head back to do the back loop of the trail that was not part of the tour.  That of course means that we will be seeing again all the places we have been.   It’s about 2:00 when we start back and the wildlife is noticeably decreased from the morning.  I was actually surprised that there was so much wildlife as late as 9:30-11 AM.

We see this turtle resting on his belly with legs up in the air both in front and behind him.  Nice balancing act.
Across the lake a great egret and an anhinga are visible in the trees.






Here’s another one of those platforms.  This one is in Gator lake and has a nice convenient ramp.  Don’t know whether the gator used it or he’s just blocking it from use by anyone else.



In the farthest loop is what they believe to be the oldest tree and it is a big one.   We opt out of walking knee deep in the marsh to give it a hug.  We have the wrong clothing on for swamp walking today but they do swamp walks here and I wonder if we could return for one if hugging this tree might be possible.  Thanks to Mona Liza from Lowe’s Travels for her comment on my last post with a link to a write up on this book, Blinded By Science, which discusses the scientific evidence that tree hugging is good for our health, not to mention a thank you for providing shade and the oxygen we breathe in.     I LOVE my commenters!








It was a wonderful day at an excellent spot we might not have know of had it not been for our friends.  It was a great Friday the 13th, a lucky day.   Thanks Mike and Terri!!!




  1. What a beautiful day.....so much cor superstitious hogwash. You saw lots of wildlife on your walk and those c h airs looked the perfect place for lunch. The gator seems to be the perfect troll Harding the entrance to the landing.

  2. Hats off to the students and teacher who made such a difference here. I think if you can get children and teens interested early enough, at least some of them will go on to be more involved in environmental activism as they become adults.

  3. When you think of a swamp, you don't picture all the beauty and fascinating wildlife that you've posted pictures of. What a great place to visit and with special friends, a super way to spend the day! :c)

    I always knew tree hugging is as good for you as it is for the tree!

  4. What a beautiful area to go through!

    The gator seems quite satisfied.

  5. I'm glad the story of the school kids saving the land is preserved along with the land. Very inspiring! The photos from the boardwalk are wonderful - especially the comparison of the mighty tree to the tiny sprout :-) That looks like another wonderful VC. Agree that the mural is stunning! Turtles always crack me up, and the little gymnast is a hoot :-))))

  6. What a terrific tour! I really enjoy places like that. Glad that Mike & Terri suggested it, and that you have more proof that they are around :) What a beautiful mural, it looks like a photograph!

  7. Great story about the students- pretty place with amusing birds. And, lovely paintings...wow gorgeous. I love the turtle relaxing. So glad that place is preserved- unfortunate about those hogs. 10 young growing up to have more young that continue to destroy the ecosystem-seems very bad and yet they are animals too....invasive animals...who else does that sound like?

  8. What GREAT turtle pictures, lots of them!!

  9. Another diverse walk with so much to see and my favorite pics are looking into the water, and the reflections and light. One of these winters I'm just going to have to check out FL.

  10. those hogs are not cute. . .not in the least! They are an utter nuisance. . .

    We have several of the Black Crowned Night Herons in the RV Park here near San Diego. . .they are not the least bit afraid of people. . .and rush right into the midst of all the ducks and geese to eat the bread that everyone seems to give all the birds here. . .

  11. We stayed not too far from Six Mile Cypress Preserve for a month last January. We had a great time visiting the preserve. It was nice because we could ride our bikes. Sounds like you had a great wild life day:)

  12. Thanks for the shout out! After reading that article, I too began looking for a tree to hug here in TX, but none so far. It isn't pretty here :(
    Hmm we missed this preserve. Walks such as what you have enjoyed make me want to come back to FL. I like those Art installations, the artist are very imaginative.

  13. What a beautiful place. Really loved the Great Egret with his breeding plumage, and the anhinga that was drying his striking black and white wings. Thanks for another great day with good friends! Hope our paths will cross again down here in Florida next year.

  14. What a beautiful preserve -- I love the flora and fauna, and have a great appreciation for the artists who celebrate the splendor through their creations. I'm glad that some of our tax dollars are spent in support of the arts. Another place on our list for next winter!

  15. Here is to the wonderful teacher who made a difference and shared that experience with his students at hopefully an impressionable age (i.e. probably not teens). What is also amazing to me about this preserve is that it is a county park! I can't remember any county park this remarkable anywhere we have been. A great day indeed with Mike & Terri. Thanks to them for finding and inviting us to share the exploration.

  16. Another wonderful day...and to share it with friends makes it even better!! Great photo of the four of you:o))


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