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Five Exercise Trails in St. Petersburg, FL

Updated on October 21, 2014
The boardwalk trail from the observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve.
The boardwalk trail from the observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve. | Source

St. Pete is filled with outdoor trails that combine great scenery with your workout, whether you consider that to be walking, running, biking, or some other aerobic exercise. The trails listed below provide one, or more, of the following backdrops that can add to any workout: water views, the downtown skyline, mangrove preserves, hardwood maple forests, and swamp forests, to name a few. There's also opportunity to spot wildlife, depending on which trail you choose, including wading birds, pelicans, alligators, dolphins, or, sometimes even a manatee.

North Shore Park/Downtown - (North Shore Dr. and 12th Avenue, St. Petersburg). North Shore Park is one of several parks in the city that are along the waterfront. With ample free parking, this park is a good starting point to head to the sidewalk adjacent to the bay. The sidewalk runs continuously to Coffee Pot Park 20 blocks to the north, or towards downtown to the south.

From the parking lot, head south towards the beach volleyball nets to set you on a course toward the downtown area. The sidewalk winds next to the waterfront, where walkers sometimes spot surfacing dolphins. Continue past the marina and the Vinoy Hotel, remaining on the waterfront and head towards the now-closed Pier. While the building itself is closed, the approach is still open to the public. Bonus: This park also has tennis courts, beach volleyball, and pull up bars in the beach area next to the volleyball nets. You can also walk north, away from the downtown area toward our next park. For more information, visit: www.stpeteparksrec.org/north-shore-park

Coffee Pot Park - (1st St. NE. and 31st Ave. NE). This sidewalk begins at the top of Coffee Pot Bayou, and runs continuously down to North Shore Park and the downtown waterfront, our first location. About 0.75 mile south of the launch is a bird rookery, Pelican Island, home to a large population of pelicans. Continue the long trek towards downtown, or take a detour to Snell Isle, an upscale neighborhood developed in the 1920s, where the sidewalk continues until it hits the Vinoy Golf Club. The club building has an exotic feel, combining various architectural elements, such as minarets, onion domes, open balconies and fretworks. Other amenities include: a boat ramp, playground, and picnic shelters. for more information, visit: www.stpeteparksrec.org/northeast-exchange-club-coffee-pot-park

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve - (1101 Country Club Way South, St. Petersburg). This 245-acre preserve is located on the shores of Lake Maggiore in south St. Petersburg, and has an admission fee ($3.00 for adults), but is well worth the small fee. The preserve contains three miles of trails through a variety of ecosystems, including willow marsh, swamp woodlands, sand pine scrub, and pine flatwoods. Playground and picnic areas are available. For more information and hours, visit: www.stpeteparksrec.org/boyd-hill-nature-preserve.

Weedon Island Preserve - (1800 Weedon Drive NE). Located on Tampa Bay, Weedon Island Preserve is a 3,190-acre natural preserve, with four-and-a-half miles of nature trails for hiking. The preserve is ideal for birding, and has a 3,000-foot boardwalk leading hikers to a 45-foot observation tower. From the top of the tower, one can view most of the Preserve, and – on a clear day – the Tampa skyline across the bay, and the skyline of St. Petersburg to the south. Bonus: Kayak rentals are available at the boat ramp, with two kayaking/canoe trails that run through the mangroves. For more information, visit: www.weedonislandpreserve.org/

Sawgrass Lake Park - (7400 25th St. N ). This 400-acres park allows visitors to walk through one of the largest maple swamps on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The park is good for alligator spotting and is also home to a variety of birds, including herons, egrets, ibis, and wood storks. Much of the trail consists of boardwalks through the swamp and there is an observation tower at the lake's edge, which serves as a prime vantage point for spotting gators. For more information, visit: www.pinellascounty.org/park/16_sawgrass.

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