Sleeping Turtles Preserve North and South Hiking\Biking Park
Looking for a great park to walk, hike, or bike in that is mostly under the cover of tall pine trees and along the wild Myakka River, this park may fill your need for adventure. Like most parks, this has limited facilities.
The North End
Located at 3462 Border Rd, Venice FL 34292, this park is divided by Border Rd. The North section is on the left (going east) while the South section is on the right, just before the bridge over the river. You can miss both, as signage is not that noticeable.
Once inside the North section, trails can loop around for nearly four miles. Most trails are in good condition for walking or mountain bikes with knobby tires. Walking from the entrance to the canoe launch at the end of the park is just 20 minutes or so. As you near this area, you will see another restricted access point at the corner of Meyers and Palm streets. The canoe launch can also be used by kayakers, but you will need to carry either in to the river a short distance. As you do, make sure no gators are laying about.
The best trail is the one that is along the Myakka. There are various access points to see it and count on seeing at least one gator either sunning on a river bank across or cruising in the river. Other animals you might encounter in the day are raccoons or possums, like I did when biking. The baby possum was so adorable as we unexpectedly reached the crossroads simultaneously.
Besides the canoe site at the end of the trail and park, there actually is a kayak launch site in the park as noted on the park map (trail post 3), however, one would have to haul it along the trails just to reach it. Not really worth it. A more easier launch, but still a carry it in, is on the other side of the bridge on Border Rd, about 100 yards on the left side. A small sign will say, Carolton Kayak Launch, along a dirt road. Just follow until it ends. The launch is on the left after you go about 200 feet.
The South End
Across Border Rd. is the south end of the park, accessible only by foot or bike via a narrow walkway. No dogs are allowed here, but the trails are much longer and all under the canopy of tall pines. One trail is close to the river and then loops around to the other side, which is further away. If the North end has not satisfied your exercise habit, this, in addition, should do it if you do a full walkaround. The southern section will add an additional 3-4 miles and more. There are no kayak launches here just some lookouts across the river.