Myakka River State Park, Sarasota, Florida: Photo Tour of Original Florda
If you are visiting Central Florida and want to visit a place close to what native Florida was, go to Myakka River State Park east of Sarasota on route 72.
You can enter the Park from Sarasota to the west or from Arcadia to the east. As you pass through the gate, ask the ranger for a map. You can hike, ride bicycles (they rent them), fish, kayak (they rent them), ride the tram, ride airboats, camp, etc. They also have a small snack bar and a few cabins.
Well, here we are, my wife Becky, our "child" Misty, and that's me behind the camera. We had loaded up our bicycles and left home about 10:30 and arrived at the concession area about noon on a beautiful, warm, sunny, spring day. The best times to visit may be spring and fall, but there is always much to see. Unlike many state parks, Myakka is dog friendly. We just put our little Misty in a basket on the handle bars and took off. She loved it as much as we did. At any time of the year, use sunscreen liberally; I didn't and got a good burn.
The concession area is often crowded as it is the only place to get a snack, rent a bicycle or kayak, take a tram or airboat trip, and rent a cabin. It is located on the largest Myakka River headwater lakes. The Myakka River flows only a few miles south through the Carlton Reserve and North Port emptying into Charlotte Bay.
The tram takes you on a leisurely trip into the back country with a guide. You will know a lot more about the Myakka area after a trip on the tram.
Much of the park is remote with no trails. Species of birds, bobcats, otter, possums, deer, turtles, and snakes abound. Even the Florida panther has been known to visit the park.
Starting out at Ranch House trail head (named Meadow Sweet Pasture at the gate) we enter a jungle world few have seen with stately oaks and overhanging palms abounding.
Many of the oak limbs are covered with orchids, ferns, spanish moss, and other bromeliads. These plants (indeed, all the plants in the state parks) are protected and should never be disturbed. When visiting parks, take out only what you brought in and leave only foot prints.
When the canopy is heavy not as much light gets to the ground, and the palmetto plants are fewer, but there are places where these smaller palms are so thick that you cannot walk between them.
In places, sometimes right across the trail, you will see the results of pigs digging for roots and grubs.
Besides the area of heavy vegetation, there are dozens of square miles of prairie. Some of this is low ground and is covered with water during the rainy season. During the dry season, there is a danger of fire.
This area of Florida is a few inches lower and stores a good bit of water in the lakes. They aren't very deep,but they provide enough water to supply a lazy but still unspoiled, beautiful stream, the Myakka River.
Well, the day is over and we had to leave, but it won't be the last time we visit Myakka River State Park.