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Mound Key

May 28, 2014
FL Guide

In the middle of Estero Bay nestled between the Estero River and Big Carlos Pass is an archaeological wonderland called Mound Key. The main trail, known as the Eco-Archaeo Trail, divides the island and is a 15-20 minute hike from one end to the other. It will leave visitors amazed, out-of-breath and mosquito-bitten (especially during summer months) all at once. The cooler months, like March, are a perfect time to check out the historic island.

Mound Key is a secluded island without facilities. It is known to be the ceremonial center of the Calusa Indians when the Spaniards first attempted to colonize Southwest Florida in 1566.

The trail's undulating surface terrain wanders through high shell mounds, watercourts and a tropical forest that boasts roughly 2,000 years of history on the island, now maintained by the state park system. The approach to Mound Key can be made by boat or paddle craft. Boaters can depart from Lover's Key Boat Ramp on the bay side of the state park or from other various points in the area. Paddle-crafts can be put in near Big Carlos Pass, Little Carlos Pass or Black Island for a hour-long excursion.

Mound Key is accessible from north or south side entrances. The half-mile shell path traverses the island from southwest to northeast through a tropical hardwood hammock natural community as well as three mounds. A vast variety of tress includes Gumbo Limbos, Stoppers, Privets, buttonwoods and red, black and white mangroves.

From the trail's south side, the path quickly dips below treeline into the hammock and away from the sun's heat. Just steps in, a diverted, short course leads to a concrete/shell foundation used as an old cistern that is believed to be evidence of Euro-American occupation during the early part of the 20th Century.



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