Naples Nature

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After ten days in Wellington, I finally headed out and crossed the state of Florida to Naples.  I planned just to stay the night, but didn’t get to see much of my cousin, so I stayed an extra day, especially since the Boeing documentary, Downfall, which he is in was debuting on Netflix the following day.  They were having a watching party, so I stayed for the red-carpet rollout!

On serious note, I’m going to think twice about flying that 737-Max after watching the documentary and more importantly after what Dan told me which isn’t even portrayed in the documentary.  From what I understand, while likely safe, it is the least safe airplane in the sky!  And as a pilot and former president of the AA pilot’s union, Dan won’t fly it.

Anyway, since Annie and their little dog did not become best friends over night, I spent the day wearing Annie out so she would be a better house guest for the party.

Bonita Beach Dog Park

In my previous research, I read about the Bonita Beach Dog Park also known as Lee County Dog Beach.  The parking is right off the main road, but it takes a short walk to get to the dog beach which requires wading through warm, shallow water and through some trees.

I arrived mid-morning and the small beach was extremely busy.  While there are places for humans to sit, there is not a big space on the beach for the dogs to run like my recent visit to Jupiter Beach.  Instead, most of the dogs play in the shallow water.

Annie is a little afraid of water, so she began by running around all the stationed people and marked near their bags and chairs.  I shouted out a few “sorrys”, but no one seemed to mind.  Then once she did her business in the water, which made for a mess, she ventured into the shallows only because that was the only way to play with the other dogs.

As soon as it got deep enough for a large splash she stopped.  As a result, she did not get out as much energy as I had hoped though her sensory overload helped.  I hovered over her for about an hour making sure she didn’t pick on any little dogs before we left.

In all, it wasn’t my favorite place especially due to wading through what I knew was pee and poop infested water to come and go.  That said, many people enjoy it, and it has a 4-bone rating on Bring Fido.

After our visit to Bonita Beach Dog Park, we back tracked a little to find some nature trails near Naples since we were planning another night with my cousin Dan, his wife Al, and daughter Clare.  The AllTrails App directed us to Fred W Coyle Freedom Park.

Fred W Coyle Freedom Park

Freedom Park features free parking and entry, an education center, about 1.5 miles of trails and boardwalks, multiple bathrooms, six lookout towers, and a Freedom Memorial honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Freedom Park is named for the County Commissioner, Fred W Coyle, who championed the park and memorial.  The 50-acre park was constructed to develop a water filtration system for stormwater which enters the Gordon River and Naples Bay.  The series of four freshwater marshes tucked within the native wetlands remove pollutants and heavy metals before the water enters the river.

Once crop rows and overgrown, the quiet park in now a lovely oasis in Naples.  I was excited to explore the entire park, but when Annie I reached the trail behind the education center, I spotted a “no dogs” sign. 

Bummed, I returned to VANgo where I spotted another trail to the west.  This one included poop bags at the entry.  I was a little confused by the whole thing, but later found that 12.5 acres on the eastern side of the park is owned by Conservation Collier while the rest is operated by Collier County.  As a result, the dog rules are different.

In order not to get in trouble, however, I followed the trail to the west where it passed by the tribute memorial to 9/11 victims.  Thereafter, I tried to make the longest loop, as there are many options, on the west side of the education center.

Gordon River Greenway

I’m not sure I succeeded, as it didn’t take me too long to wind through the trees and past the ponds.  Consequently, Annie and I checked out the Gordon River Greenway across street.  Since it was a busy street, we drove, but it is not far.

The 140-acre Gordon River Greenway parks features 2.5 miles of boardwalks and trails and is dog friendly.  There is plenty of parking and bathrooms may be found by the trailhead. Gordon River Greenway is very popular amongst bicyclists. Walkers beware as they rarely notify you upon approaching from behind.

Seeing as how we strolled through the pine, palms, live oak, fern and even wild coffee during the heat of the day, the birds and animals were elusive.  But we enjoyed the walk in the shade, and with the help of the heat, I zapped out Annie’s energy for the Downfall watch party in Naples.

gordon river greenway in naples

Stay tuned…I’m off to Sanibel, Matlacha, and Pine Island over the next few days. ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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