The meandering trail is 190 miles (306 kilometers) along back bays, rivers, creeks, flats and mangrove shores. It’s rare for someone to paddle the whole thing in one trip. You can experience much of what the Great Calusa Blueway has to offer in an hour or two.
The trail is divided into three segments:
Phase 1/Estero Bay (blue); Fort Myers Beach, south Fort Myers, Bonita Beach, Estero, San Carlos
Phase 2/Pine Island Sound (maroon); south Fort Myers, Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva, Useppa, Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa, Pine Island, Matlacha, Cape Coral
Phase 3/Caloosahatchee River and tributaries (yellow); Cape Coral, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Buckingham, Alva
Locally, you can find them at parks, outfitters, welcome centers, some government offices, marinas and other attractions. Maps can be mailed to those who request them online at Order a Trail Map Maps also are in downloadable PDF versions at Download Trail Maps
GPS coordinates are available at Trail Marker GPS Coordinates
More than 40 marked launch sites are identified on the Great Calusa Blueway maps, and many more sites exist. Check out “highlights” on your trail maps or read Put-In Spots.
Tick marks on the maps indicate an approximate mile wherever possible. An average paddler travels 3 mph.
Markers are intermittent and not always visible within your line of sight. Marker numbers and letters do not necessarily run in consecutive order because of forks in the trail.
Phase 1/Estero Bay and Phase 2/Pine Island Sound have markers on the water. Phase 3/Caloosahatchee follows the linear river and has GPS coordinates for the mouth of each tributary noted on its map; there are no markers on the water.
E-mail the marker number or letter, location, condition, date and your name and contact information to MHammond@leegov.com Or download a marker check form at www.leeparks.org; click on “maps/downloads.”
Launch sites are indicated with an icon on the trail maps and show places where you can put in your canoe or kayak. Paddlecraft landings are indicated with text in the highlights on the trail maps and show where you can pull in to get out of your boat for rests or hikes. Examples include Phase 1’s Matanzas Pass Preserve on Estero Island, Phase 2’s Andy Rossi Lane on Captiva and Phase 3’s Hickey's Creek Mitigation Park in east Fort Myers.
You don’t. Call ahead to (239) 694-0398, and park staff can assist by opening a gate at a closer entrance so you can launch at the site
This site, which is on Phase 3/Caloosahatchee map, is a gated green space on the Orange River just east of Buckingham Road. Parking is available at Buckingham Community Center. The gate is not open, and you cannot drive in to launch. Lee County’s Manatee Park often schedules guided group tours that depart from this site; call (239) 690-5030 for details or go to www.leeparks.org.