Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park
Overview of Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park
Collier County's desirable coast reaches its zenith at Barefoot Beach Preserve, where numerous animal species reside and visitors are able to enjoy the ambience of the park's natural surroundings. Barefoot Beach Preserve is 342 acres of natural land, one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida's southwest coast.
This beach park is an excellent example of the shifts in habitat that occur within a very narrow strip of land with only slight changes in elevation and moisture. 8,200 feet of beach and sand dunes support the growth of seat oats, providing nesting sites for seat turtles during the summer months. The park also maintains a tropical coastal hammock of sable palm, gumbo-limbo and sea grape trees among many others. The site is also home to the protected gopher tortoise.
Barefoot Beach Preserve is popular for its gorgeous, plush surroundings and its opportunities for avid fishermen, who are able to enjoy many species of fish. The inland side of the island provides tidal creeks and mangrove swamps which serve as breeding areas and as a nursery for sport and commercial fish and shellfish.
Parks Rangers offer a number of programs at the Barefoot Beach Preserve Park including lectures and interpretive programs. Park Rangers educate the public about the importance of the environment and wildlife in Southwest Florida. Subjects include a guided walk through the preserve, where visitors learn about the many habitats in the preserve as well as flora and fauna. Rangers also provide a free recreation guide where they take visitors to look at the natural history of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, some of which reside at the preserve.
Barefoot Beach Preserve Park has a 356 space parking lot, one-mile nature trail, showers, picnic area and a concession are where equipment may be rented and food and drink is available for purchase. The preserve also offers handicapped beach wheelchair access.
Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park - When You Visit
When you arrive at Barefoot Beach Preserve, you will be standing on Little Hickory Island, a barrier island, an island in motion, made of sand and shaped by the wind, tides, waves, and currents. This narrow strip of land acts as a barrier, protecting the mainland from coastal storm wind and water. Established in 1990, Barefoot Beach Preserve remains one of Southwest Florida’s most beautiful, and natural places. There are five distinct habitats within the preserve: beach or littoral zone, dune zone, coastal strand, maritime hammock, and estuarine mangrove forest.
Behind the beach rise the dunes, ridges of sand piled up by the winds and waves. Dunes help protect this fragile island while providing important habitat for many shore birds.
Behind the dune lies the coastal strand, a shrub community dominated by sea grape trees. The sandy, well-drained soils provide an ideal habitat for the protected Gopher tortoise.
Protected from salt spray by the coastal strand is the maritime hammock or jungle. Here you will find a cabbage palm hammock, the most diverse plant community in the Barefoot Beach Preserve.
Separating this barrier island from the mainland is the estuarine mangrove forest. Estuaries, where fresh and salt water meet and mix, are some of the most productive communities on earth. For information on Park Ranger programs call the Ranger station at 239.591.8596.
Information courtesy Department of Collier County Parks & Recreation