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Gulf & Main Magazine

Take a Walk On The Great Florida Birding Trail

Jan 02, 2024 08:00AM ● By Ann Marie O’Phelan

An egret captured at golden hour. Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash

Lakes Park in Fort Myers offers several miles of unpaved and paved paths, boardwalks, and a large lake that used to be a rock quarry. For Southwest Florida birds, it’s a great place to rest, reside, and replenish. For bird lovers, it’s a great place to spot a variety of birds, including anhinga, cormorants, egrets, ibis, and herons. The Park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, where bird habitats are protected in more than 500 locations throughout the state.

A recent bird walk. Image courtesy of Dr. Jose Padilla.

Visitors can take advantage of a beautiful opportunity to enjoy the birds by joining the free Lakes Park Bird Patrol-Led Nature Walk. The walks are held on the first Saturday of every month from 8 am (promptly) to around 9:30 am. (There are nominal parking fees at Lakes Park.) The paths are easy to walk, and guests will surely spot many birds in their habitats, a crucial bird nesting area. In fact, during nesting season, over 1,000 nests are in the rookery. The Bird Patrols point out the birds who may be flying, nesting, or feeding and offer educational information about them. The Patrols also monitor bird activity year-round and report their findings to

“I saw so many amazing birds on the walk!” said Margaret O’Brian, who enjoyed the Park when visiting from Ohio. Her grandkids also loved the playground, the Railroad Museum, and the miniature railroad Train Ride. The train takes riders for close to a mile-long ride around the lake and through the park’s north end. For more information, call 239-267- 1905 or visit 

In addition to the train attractions, Lakes Park offers a variety of gardens, such as a community garden and a fragrance garden, various water activities, outdoor fitness stations, and more.

For the walk, enter Lakes Park gate from Gladiolus Drive. Turn right. Continue to along the drive to the parking lot. Pay the parking fee at the parking kiosk. Parking fees are $1 per hour or $5 per day. Walk is free with paid parking Walks meet at Shelter A7, near the Train Station and close to the parking lot.  Bring water, sunscreen, a camera, and binoculars!  For more information, call 239-533-7578. Lakes Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, 

Ann Marie O’Phelan is a SW Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.