Myakka River State Park covers approximately 58 square miles. 12 miles of Florida’s “Wild and Scenic” Myakka River flows through a mosaic of pinelands, prairies and shady hammocks, bejeweled with thousands of assorted wetlands. Add two sand-bottomed shallow lakes and the mixture of habitats is a perfect recipe for diversity of birds and other wildlife. The Florida dry prairie was once widely distributed, but only remnant patches of this rare, fire-dependent community remain, making it one of America’s most endangered habitats. There are 7,500 acres designated as a wilderness preserve. Many of the facilities at Myakka River State Park were built in the 1930s by the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The five historic log cabins were constructed with hand-hewn pine and oak, and with the trunks of cabbage palms, and then chinked with tar and sawdust. Modern conveniences such as air conditioning, stove, refrigerator and bathroom with shower have been added over the years. One cabin has been modified to accommodate persons with limited mobility. The main park drive winds through oak and palm hammocks which opens to give a view of grassy marshes, sloughs and Upper Myakka Lake.
Tour Upper Myakka Lake, hike through the dry prairie, or walk through the treetops on an elevated walkway. At Myakka River State Park, visitors can camp or rent a cabin to enjoy the park’s many activities. Stop at the visitor center, where wildlife and habitat displays explain opportunities for exploring this natural playground. Walk through the treetops on the 85-foot- long suspension bridge and climb a 74-foot tower for an eagle’s-eye view of hammocks and wetlands. Board the Myakka Maiden or Gator Gal, the world’s biggest airboats, for a scenic cruise of Upper Myakka Lake. Take a “Tram Safari” into the backcountry. A 39-mile portion of the Florida Trail winds through pinelands, around wetland edges, through hammock islands and across the Florida prairie. Visitors can see alligators, deer, raccoons, red-shouldered hawks, wild turkeys and barred owls. The wheelchair-accessible pier, with partly roofed platform, enhances fishing opportunities where the Myakka River joins Upper Myakka Lake. Equestrians may bring their horses with proof of negative Coggins test. Myakka Outpost sells supplies, souvenirs, and snacks such as gator stew and ice cream. They also rent bicycles, canoes and kayaks. Ranger tours are Saturdays at 9am; campfire programs Saturdays at 7:30pm (Thanksgiving to Easter). Tents and RVs are welcome at 76 campsites that have water and electric hookups. Five historic log cabins are available for rent. Three group camps accommodate up to 20 people each. Six primitive campgrounds are located along the 39 miles of trails.Hours are 8am until sunset, 365 days a year.
For camping information, contact Reserve • America at 800-326-3521 or visit www.ReserveAmerica.com.