Collier County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: March 26, 2004
Author: John Mitchler

This hike involves as much or as little walking as feel like investing, with virtually no gain.
Required topo maps include Immokalee and Felda (splice together). Also, DeLorme Atlas page 112.

Please see the CANKER warning at the bottom of this report.

This flat terrain in southwest Florida, just west of Fort Meyers, is covered with active, corporate orange groves and dissected with drainage ditches. The Collier-Hendry county line near FL29 & FL 82 has the highest ground for both counties so plan to visit both while there.

Your key landmark is the junction of FL 29 and FL 82. From the south, take Exit 80 off I-75 (Alligator Alley) and drive north on FL 29 for 25 miles to the junction with FL 82. From the west, take exit 136 off I-75 in Fort Meyers and drive east on CR 884 two miles to FL 82 and turn right (south) and go 23 miles east to the junction with FL 29. From the north or east, take the county and state roads south and west of Lake Okeechobee towards FL 29 and take that south to the junction with FL 82.

Dave Covill's Collier County report explains the Marcos Island mounds which are manmade and Dave capably discusses the nature of the huge northwest/southeast-oriented contour bisected by FL 82. I offer further observations.

To reach the heart of the likely highest ground in Collier County, drive to the key landmark (junction of FL 29 and FL 82), zero your odometer, and then drive west on FL 82. The land within the huge 40-foot contour is very flat and covered with groves and dissected with ditches. The spot elevations do not exceed 42 feet and demonstrate the flat nature of the land. Inspection of the landscape did not reveal any rises or swells. Personally, it seemed to me that the ground along FL 82 in section 7 was highest, although it seemed that the ground in section 17 along FL 29 was high too. To count this county, go to both locations. Also consider traveling some of the roads to get a feel for the land. Do report any rises in the landscape that we have not detected!

To access the northern area of this huge 40-foot contour, turn right (north) at mile 3.0 and enter an active, corporate orange grove. Watch for trucks. Stay on the roads. Do NOT touch the trees. At the gate house on the left, I asked permission to visit the highpoint of the counties there and it took some explaining to receive permission. While talking to the gal there and eventually the foreman, I studied the company's road map of the farm. With permission granted, drive north from FL 8 on the wide gravel road, passing through a metal spray loop which disinfects your vehicle for canker. Drive north for about a mile, passing a blue house in an open field. This is the Big Cypress Ranch. We drove east on several side roads and found some of them narrow and muddy. In my Hendry County report I describe the walk that will get you to the very north end of the Collier County highpoint contour.

To access the central area of this huge 40-foot contour, turn left (south) at mile 2.0 where a paved road heads south from FL 82. You can drive east on side roads from this paved road for a couple miles to inspect the huge contour or you can stop your vehicle along FL 82 at mile 1.5 (from the junction with FL 29) and inspect the land to the north and to the south.

To access the southern area of this huge 40-foot contour, drive south on FL 29 from the junction of FL 29 & 82 and stop after 1 mile. Inspect the land to the left and right (east and west) of FL 29. The high ground extends about 1/2 mile on either side.

CANKER WARNING: Agricultural areas fight a constant battle with insects and disease. The value of crops, and thus the farmers' livelihoods, depends on a successful outcome. While visiting this area, the newspapers had articles about the canker (a bacteria that attacks orange trees and makes them wither - first attacking leaves, then stem, then fruit) and how it can be transported by vehicle, foot, or touch. It is important that visitors do not touch the trees or fences and do not walk among them. The canker is not harmful to humans but can be ruinous to the farmers. State law requires that all exposed trees, and those within 1,900 feet of the suspect trees, be removed. The state and the farmers are very serious about this threat.