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Estero River Canoe Trail

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The Estero River Canoe Trail is officially designated as part of Florida’s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. This trail begins at Koreshan State Historic Site, the location of a pioneer, turn of the century, religious settlement. The trail leads through subtropical hammocks that give way to mangrove swamps as the water becomes more brackish. The trail makes an interesting and easy one-day trip exploring mangrove coves and islands. Wildlife is abundant, including yellow-crowned night heron, anhinga and cormorant. You can also look for mangrove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo. When the trail opens into Estero shoals, choose your own route through the mangrove islands. Stop over at Mound Key Archaeological State Park for a picnic lunch or a short walk on the nature trails. The bay is shallow, and the end of the trail at Lovers Key State Park on Black Island is easy to find.

Mileage: 7
Skill Level: Beginner
Difficulty: Moderate
Usual Current: Slow (0-1 mph).

Notes and Precautions

Know how to use a compass! Be sure to take one to aid in navigating the mangrove islands. Do not attempt to cross Estero Bay if more than light chop is expected. The river current is not strong, so you can paddle upstream to return to Koreshan.


  1. Koreshan State Historic Site – Two miles west of I-75, exit 19 at US 41 and Corkscrew Road.
  2. Lovers Key State Park – On east side of CR 865, two miles north of Bonita Beach. (7 miles)

There may be access points (both public and private) in addition to those listed here. Please remember that some sites require a fee for launching and/or parking.

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