One of the oldest and largest state parks, Myakka protects one of the states most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River, designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway. The parks river and two lakes provide ample opportunities for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; a boat ramp provides access to Upper Myakka Lake. Hikers can explore trails that cross large expanses of rare Florida dry prairie. Scenic lake tours are offered daily on the worlds two largest airboats. Safari tram tours of the parks backcountry are offered from mid-December through May. Full-facility campgrounds and primitive campsites are available. Five palm log cabins, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, have been modernized for comfortable lodging. Located nine miles east of Sarasota on State Road 72.
I spent two days, one night at Myakka River State Park, and hiked the entire outer loop. There is a fee per person per night, no parking fee, and you must reserve a site via phone ahead of time. If you think that hiking all day to one of the remote sites will buy you some solitude, you would be wrong. Each camp area has a cluster of sites right next to one another. Suitable tent (or hammock sites) are few and far between in the park, but they can be found. I chose to camp outside of an established site and LNT. Check with the rangers about water availability. They leave bottles of water at each pump, those are used to prime the pumps, not for drinking. There are some streams that you can filter water from, but they are not regularly spaced. I found delicious orange and grapefruit growing off trail in the north end of park. I saw a wide variety of birds, herds of deer, pigs, racoon, and turkeys on my trip.
Myakka River State Park is all the best parts of Florida. Definitely make this trip in the winter, and bring sun protection. The winding trails snake you across open, exposed prairie for miles at a time. It's really something to see where you were a whole day ago. The stands of trees are wet and muddy, so you'll appreciate finding our way out onto the prairie again to dry out your shoes. The pigs graze along trails and leave them rutted for a mile at a time in many places. Even when it's dry out, there will be standing water, and if it has been raining, most of the park will be very wet.
I heard from another hiker that the spot on the map marked as "Old Railroad Grade" is a green tunnel covered with trees and is quite a nice walk. On the map I had at the time, it just looked like a road, so I naturally avoided it. It might be worth a look!
Spent a very nice morning here hiking various trails for a total of about 9 miles. Although a lot of the terrain is in open grasslands, the white blazed loop meanders through many shaded areas. On section of the hike took us to the Bee Island primate camp, which was lovely!
The trails near the trail head on the main road are well marked and we'll maintained, and easy, low stress, basic navigation skills. But to all the serious hikers and backpackers I'm Florida, check out there 38 miles of hiking only trails with I think 6 back country primitive spots. I'll warn you though, it is a prairie in most spots so plan water accordingly! Cheers
I ended up doing the North Loop a while back and ran into wild pigs on the trail. The only dont like is the trail seems more catered towards equestrians and not hikers. It was not very shady and very open spaced and the trail was mainly dirt/sand type. I plan on going back to do the South Loop and see how that is later when its cooler since there is not much shade.
South Loop: 7.4mi
North Loop: 5.4
Olive G. on Lake Myakka Trail
Pigs, birds, deer, and gators :) Beautiful and relaxing hike at any time of year. Wear sunscreen.
This was one of the first times we were able to hike in this area and our first time in Myakka SP. We walked the power line to the hiking trail (the one that leads to Bee Island Campsite) and then continued on the circle back to the crossroad and looped back to the powerline for our exit. Being from the mountains of upstate NY we enjoyed the different hiking environment from what we are used to (typically heavily wooded, steep rocky trails with 2000' of gain over a mile or 2). The view across the open plain was very nice as well as the variety of plant life. Getting used to those HUGE banana spiders took the wife some time :) ! We also saw an armadillo, several alligators, a few wild hogs and some beautiful birds. Very nice trail system, can't wait to see more of it.