The Punta Gorda History Park – A stroll

The Punta Gorda History Park is located at 501 Shreve Street along the developing Linear Park.  I will post this seperately because the History Park really merits a slow stroll looking at all that is available there.

The Punta Gorda Historical Society maintains the park and uses it to preserve and restore old buildings.  At present, there are four.  The Trabue Land Sales Office, the Cigar Cottage, the Price House and the Quednau-Hindman House currently going under renovation.  There is also the old strap iron Calaboose but that isn’t really a building.

The park also includes plenty of horticultural interest.  There are almost 100 different hibiscus plants to honor Harry Goulding, a local hybridizer with a global reputation.

As you enter the park you will see the fountain from the old Punta Gorda Hotel as a centerpiece in the walkway.  The building in the picture on the left  is the Cigar Cottage.  The Trabue Land Office and Quednau-Hindman house on the right.

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The Trabue Land Office is used as an Arts and Crafts gallery for local artists.  If it’s open stop in and have a look.  If you are interested in the horticultural features of the park or the wildlife inhabitants, that’s a good place to ask if things aren’t too busy.

As you walk further down the path you will find the Price House and to the left of it, the old Calaboose.

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The garden beds throughout the park contain almost 100 varieties of Hibiscus and are called the Harry Goulding Memorial Garden after the pioneer hybridizer who lived in town.

The vacant lot next to the history park at the corner of Shreve and Henry is not a part of the park.  It is however home to a pretty wide variety of birds including a pair of Great Horned Owls who have used the old Eagle’s Nest for breeding for the last few years.  Right  now, the female is brooding on her eggs.

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So, if you have the time, spend some at the history park.  You will enjoy it.

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Harborwalk – Laishley Park to US-41 South

Harborwalk continues on the western side of the Marina.  At the marina office with it’s murals of nature, you follow the floating dock on the far side of the boat ramp to the end.  This puts you back on Harborwalk just east of the US-41 North bridge.

  

When you reach the end, you can turn right to a small gazebo at the point that can be seen from the fishing pier in Laishley Park or left where you will see the US-41 North bridge stretching across the river.

  

A short walk and you will pass under this bridge to the area between the bridges.  The first thing you will see is a fishing pier.  This one doesn’t seem to be too busy but I did find a couple of fishing buddies hanging out there.

  

Looking across the fishing pier you will see both bridges arching to the north side of the Peace River.  A little way further down the path you will find the Tiki Bar of the Fourpoints Sheraton.

   

The path turns left at the Tiki Bar and heads toward the Charlevoix condominiums and just beyond them the waterside plaza of the Charlotte Harbor Event Center.  Once there, look back toward the Tiki Bar to enjoy the path you have just walked.

  

That plaza leads to the tunnel under the US-41 South bridge and the walk ends there temporarily.  The city and the property owner are working on extending this path on the water but, at present, you will need to take the path away from the bridges toward the Freeman House and turn right on Retta Esplanade to Gilchrist Park.  Or, you can just turn left on Retta Esplanade and return to Laishley Park.

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Harborwalk – MLK Jr to Laishley Park

This is another pleasant walk that can be started from the parking area at the end of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, behind the Justice Center or from Laishley Park at the end of Nesbit Street. For this entry, I will start at the MLK Jr parking area.

  

The opening to the left here leads to a boardwalk that traverses the mangroves and ends up at a sidewalk along the harbor next to the Harbor Walk condominiums.  At the far end, you will arrive at a more decorative area which includes a sculpture of palm trees which commemorate Hurricane Charley.


From there, the walk forks and you can either go up into the park toward the commercial area or walk along the harbor to the end of the marina and the fishing pier.  At the fishing pier, you can see across to another segment of the walk that goes from the Laishley Marina to the area between the US-41 bridges.

  

If you go to the left though, you will end up in Laishley Park.  This is a recreational park for children and is also used for public events like chili cookoffs, barbecue contests, etc.  Keep up with local calendars to see what all the fun is.  When there aren’t any events, you will find children playing in the interactive fountain and climbing equipment.  Lots of folks walking around or out on the fishing pier.  The interactive fountain even has a shaded sitting area to watch the kids.

   

Laishley Park is at the end of Nesbit Street.  You can either walk back the way you came or go south past the commercial part and turn left onto Retta Esplanade at the Kiwanis Veterans Memorial.  The Justice Center will be on your right and you will soon arrive back at the MLK Jr parking area.

   

If you turn right through the commercial area, you will pass the marina building with it’s murals and have another segment of Harborwalk to explore.

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Harborwalk – Adrienne to MLK Jr. Blvd

The Harborwalk project extends from the Adrienne St fishing pier westward to Fishermans Village via Laishley and Gilchrist Parks. As the name suggests, it is a walk along the edge of the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor. Adrienne street is a very short street which is mostly the parking area for the eastern end of the walk.  It was once longer but, the Charlotte Regional Medical Center extended it’s bounds across the street and it is now the driveway in front of the hospital.

 

These two shots show the entrance to the park and the view from the fishing pier.  If you want to see more detail, just click on the pictures for a larger view.

As you look down the park, you can see the new Justice Center which lies between Nesbit St and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.  Start walking in that direction and the path goes through the middle of a mangrove swamp for a short distance.  This provides shade and an opportunity to see some of the nature along the path.

 

The picture on the right above is two fiddler crabs disputing territory.  The smaller crab, top left, is guarding his den with an agressive display with his large claw.  The larger crab to the right is in a defensive position.  You will see plenty of these along the path along with the black mangrove crabs and other wildlife.

As you walk the path you might think that the mangroves are all alike.  Despite the fact that their leaves are nearly identical, there are actually four different types in Punta Gorda.  The red, black and white mangroves all grow together and the differences are hard to see except when they are producing seeds.  The red mangrove produces long hanging propagules which don’t fall off the tree until they are ready for planting.  It’s a tree that makes it’s own cuttings.  The black mangrove also produces a smaller propagule which is more like a seed and the white mangrove an even smaller version.  The fourth type is the buttonwood which prefers much drier ground. Here are the red and black varieties for comparison.

 

and the white mangrove and buttonwood look like this.

 

There really aren’t any facilities along this part of the Harborwalk but, Laishley Park and its marina are close to the MLK end.  Parking is available on any of the side streets on the northern side of Marion Ave.  It is best to drive out to Cooper St just past the hospital and return on Marion to access the streets.

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Introduction and the Ring Around the City

This is to be a blog about short walks in Punta Gorda Florida.  I try to take time to walk a mile or two every day just for the purpose of walking.  I do take longer hikes which are sometimes documented in my Nature/Photography blog – BirdsNBugs.  But this blog is just about the sights along the walking and biking paths of Punta Gorda.

Of course, I don’t walk anywhere without a camera and noticing the natural elements of my surroundings so, those will show up too.  Most of the images will be taken with a Nikon P7100 point and shoot camera but, I usually have a DSLR with a selection of lenses in the car and if I find something interesting, I go back for the big camera and turn my walk into a photoshoot.

The City of Punta Gorda is committed to the development of a series of walking, hiking and biking paths which will take you around the city in a couple of different ways.  The city refers to this as the Ring Around the City.  Each section is named and the ones identified to date are:

  • Harbor Walk
  • Linear Park
  • US 41 Bridges (over the Peace River)
  • Shreve Street Connector
  • Virginia Avenue Connector
  • Carmalita Street Connector
  • Southeast Connector

Some of these are accessible as existing sidewalks which will be upgraded over time to incorporate enough width for both cyclists and pedestrians to share the path.

There are plenty of other opportunities for walking in Punta Gorda though and I will try to cover those as well.  In fact, since the ring isn’t complete, I will likely cover several of those and other local parks before I get to the future ring components.

 

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