Floridian Nature

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Florida Nature: Myakka River State Park
Myakka River State Park in FloridaLocated nine miles east of Sarasota on State Road 72, Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest state parks, protecting one of the state´s 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 park´s 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 world´s two largest airboats. Safari tram tours of the park´s 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.

In the early 1900's, most of what is now state park was a cattle ranch. The first parcel of land for the park was purchased from the Palmer family who owned the ranch. Today, visitors can walk the road where the ranch foreman's house once stood. Between 1934 and 1941, the Civilian Conservation Corps, with help from the National Park Service and Florida Park Service, constructed facilities and developed the park. Myakka River State Park was opened in 1942. Many of the original buildings are still in use today.

Historically, lightning ignited fires across the prairie and wetlands. Plants and animals depended on this natural burning for their survival. Then people suppressed fire. Much of the prairie grew into shrub or treed areas. Many endangered plants and animals such as the Florida grasshopper sparrow need the prairie to survive. People also benefit from the stores of fresh water that the prairie provides. Myakka River State Park is dedicated to restoring the prairie. Methods include prescribed burns and mechanical treatment. The prairie is emerging once again.


American alligators on the side of the Myakka River in FloridaThe park is noted for its wildlife and some of the rare birds seen only in Florida, such as the Roseate Spoonbill, frequent the park. Other species that are less rare, but still seldom seen in backyards and urban parks also are residents of the park. Native flora flourishes in the park. There are many species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals to learn about and enjoy watching as well.

Myakka River State Park has an excellent system of hiking trails. Walking trails crisscross the eastern side of the park. Six primitive campgrounds are accessible by trail throughout the park: Mossy Hammock, Bee Island, Panther Point, Honore, Oak Grove and Prairie. Five of these sites are equipped with a pitcher pump to provide water, but the Mossy Hammock campsite does not have a pump and you must pack water to this site for your use.

Horseback riding and biking is permitted on certain designated trails and roads in the park. This part of the park is dominated by expanses of very low vegetation, fields of palmetto, that make a transition to islands, or hammocks, of tall pine and oak trees. A good portion of the park is accessible by automobile. Myakka River State Park's main road leads visitors to a boardwalk out to the river and a lake that is excellent for bird watching. Another short walk from the main road reveals Myakka's Canopy Walkway, a novel suspension bridge and tower providing researchers and visitors with views of the forest canopy and a spectacular above-the-treetops view of the entire park. Picnic areas, canoeing, boat tours, and developed campsites are available. The park even has five cabins that were built not with logs, but with the trunks of native sabal palms. 

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Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest state parks, and protects one of the state´s most diverse natural areas.The park is noted for its wildlife and some of the rare birds seen only in Florida can be spotted here. Myakka River State Park is located nine miles east Located nine miles east of Sarasota on State Road 72.
Florida's Myakka River State Park is a must see for Floridian nature enthusiasts! 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 park´s 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 world´s two largest airboats. Safari tram tours of the park´s back country 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.
Myakka River State Park
Date published: 10/23/2013
4 / 5 stars