By Mike Hammond
Thousands of drivers’ daily commute takes them past Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve in Cape Coral on their way to and from work. Few realize what an enchanting paddling experience they are passing. Four Mile Cove is a 365-acre preserve operated by the City of Cape Coral. It includes boardwalks, picnic areas, a visitor center, piers, kayak rentals and launch.
A friend and I recently paddled the preserve and put in at the launch directly across from the Kayak Shack located on S.E. 21st Avenue. The trail was navigable, but tight in some sections. After a half-mile, paddlers will come to a portage. Both ends of the portage were easy to put in and take out with about 800 feet of boardwalk in between. Keep in mind you have to carry all of your gear when deciding what or who to bring. The Cape Coral Parks & Recreation website states that children under the age of 6 are not allowed in rented kayaks.
After the portage, the creek was barely wider than our boards. We worked our way east into Alligator Creek, which gets wider and wider until reaching the Caloosahatchee River. My paddling partner knew of a tunnel that would lead us to a small lake between Alligator Creek and Four Mile Cove. There was a lot of ducking and even lying down on the boards to snake our way through the mangroves. Arachnophobes may want to avoid this tunnel or find a couple other people to go first – LOL.
After exploring the little lake, we were able to paddle through another tunnel to Four Mile Cove. Paddlers can tie up to one of the three floating shelters in the cove to stretch the legs or grab a snack. Instead of taking the mangrove obstacle course back, we opted for paddling up the Caloosahatchee River to the mouth of Alligator Creek and back to the launch.
There are several picnic tables and a porta-potty at the launch. Bathrooms with running water are located at the nearby visitor center. The Kayak Shack only offers rentals November through May on the weekends. If you have your own equipment, you can launch throughout the year from 8 a.m. to dusk. Keep in mind there is almost no breeze in mangrove tunnels so in the summer, insect repellant is a must. If you are up for a fun challenge in the mangroves without driving to the beach, check out Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve. That way you will have an adventure to remember every time you drive over the Midpoint Bridge.
Contact Lee County at 239-338-3500