Taking advantage of the natural beauty along the Gordon River in one of the last unspoiled areas of urban Naples, the Gordon River Greenway will stretch two miles from Golden Gate Parkway toward the heart of Naples, ending at Central Avenue. Weaving among the mangroves and other native plants, the Greenway will feature:
- Paved Pathways
- Wildlife Viewing Stations
- Decorative Bridges
- Educational Signage
- Interpretive Graphics
- Restrooms and other amenities
- Canoe and Kayak Launch
- Picnic Shelter Areas
- Rear entrance access to the Naples Zoo and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida
- Access to the Naples Dog Park
The first section of the Greenway, from north to south, starting at Golden Gate Parkway and going south past the Conservancy and the Zoo, is now open. The Greenway is being built to accommodate individuals and families enjoying a variety of activities. The 12-foot wide pathways and 10 foot wide elevated boardwalks will be ideal for walkers, hikers, joggers, cyclists, in-line skaters, and skateboarders. They are wide enough for parents pushing baby carriages, people walking dogs as well as individuals in wheelchairs. When the launch areas are complete, paddlers in canoes and kayaks will have access to a new landscape to explore.
The historic headwaters of the Gordon River originate north of Pine Ridge Road in Naples. The river flows into Naples Bay and from there out Gordon Pass seven miles downstream, where it enters the Gulf of Mexico. The river flows along a habitat of pine flatwoods, scrub and mangrove fringe. Native plants found in this nature preserve include slash pine, cabbage palm, gumbo limbo, live oak, wild coffee, saw palmetto, myrsine, braken fern, white indigo berry, buttonwood, red mangrove, white mangrove and liatris (“blazing star”).
Part of the Greenway building phase includes the removal of exotics such as Brazilian pepper, Australian pine, melaleuca and downy rose myrtle because they compete with the native vegetation. And, in the case of Australian pines, the shallow root system cannot withstand hurricane force winds, bringing the trees down and causing extensive damage.
Many varieties of wildlife can be seen from the path, and one of the highlights of the Greenway is a yellow crowned night heron rookery on an island in the Gordon River. Depending on migration patterns, the Greenway is also frequented by anhinga, cormorant, great egret, tri-colored heron, green heron, little blue heron, snowy egret, brown pelican, osprey, red shouldered hawk, bald eagle, a variety of song birds and great horned owl. Mammals that frequent the Greenway include otter, raccoon, bobcat, fox, and opossum. Mullet can be seen jumping along the river, which is also inhabited by snook, tarpon, redfish, mangrove snapper, jacks and sheepshead. Exotics such as Mayan cichlid and spotted tilapia are also seen. Gopher tortoise burrows are common along the Greenway. Other reptiles found in the Greenway are American alligator, banded water snake, green anole, red-bellied turtle, diamondback terrapin, softshell turtle and the Cuban brown anole, an exotic species. Amphibians living along the Greenway include the green treefrog, squirrel treefrog, oak toad (an upland species), and the Cuban treefrog (an exotic).
We highly recommend you take a stroll along the Greenway during your stay in Naples! It is a great way to get a feel for the unique and bio-diverse natural habitats that surround Naples, and you never have to leave town to enjoy it! In addition to the main access point provided, there is another (often less crowded) access point located at: 1596 Golden Gate Parkway. Even as long-time locals, we still thoroughly enjoy spending time exploring the Greenway!
The Gordon River Greenway is free for all to visit and enjoy!