Once upon a time there was a pontoon boat trip at Collier-Seminole State Park. That was several years ago. After a season of strong summer storms, the concessionaire decided to end his tours. A couple years went by with no guided trips. Then in 2008, two Master Naturalist volunteer guides started seasonal guided canoe trips and night hikes at the park. Now three years later, the trips have grown so popular the park requires pre-registration for these trips. Although the moonlight canoe trips and night hikes have stopped for the season, the day canoe trips continue until April 15th. Canoeists enjoy a gentle paddle through a mangrove forest. Where the river winds and narrows, visitors look for crabs, tree snails and birds among the mangrove roots always with two guides. This varied trip includes high mangrove tunnels with stunning reflections and a hidden lagoon off the regular canoe route. Paddlers stop four times and raft up with guides who weave tales of Seminole history and the native plants and animals making the park special. New canoes with backs and padded seats, paddles and life jackets are provided.
Trips are sponsored by the Friends of Collier-Seminole State Park. All funds are used to enhance visitor services in the park. The cost is $25 per person for ages 6 and up. For reservations and information call 239-394-3397. Collier-Seminole State Park, 20200 Tamiami Trail East, is eight miles west of highway 951. And that’s only the beginning of the story.