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Myakka River State Park

13208 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241

941-361-6511

In a scene reminiscent of what early Native Americans and Spanish explorers witnessed, arching palm trees and live oaks reflect on a winding tea-colored stream. The cries of limpkins and osprey pierce the air while alligators and turtles sun lazily on logs and riverbanks.

This is the Myakka River, Florida’s first state-designated wild and scenic river, and it flows through a vast expanse of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands that make up Myakka River State Park. Boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on the water while hikers and bicyclists explore miles of trails and backroads.

Experiences

Bicycling
Myakka offers bicyclists an opportunity to explore diverse Florida ecosystems. Seven miles of paved road wind through shady hammocks, along grassy marshes, and the shore of the Upper Myakka Lake. The North Drive often has less traffic than the Main Drive. Bicycles are permitted on backcountry dirt roads north of S.R. 72 and on the Myakka Island Trail to the Carlton Reserve. Some roads are hardpacked and grassed-over, others may be sandy, muddy or dug up by feral pigs. Roads are often flooded in summer.

Birding
Myakka is a wonderful place to see birds of all kinds. Myakka's 37,000 plus acres provides wonderful habitat for wading birds, raptors, song birds, migratory birds, and ducks. Whether you are a professional or amateur, you won't be disappointed.

Check out the Wings Over Florida program! Bird (and butterfly) lists are available in the Ranger Station. This is a great, self-driven program for those who love observing Florida's natural beauty.

From November through mid April, there is a bird naturalist at the Birdwalk, most days of the week from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Call the Ranger Station ahead of time to see if they are on duty the day you plan to visit at 941-361-6511.

Camping

The park features three campgrounds with 90 campsites. Each site is equipped with 50 amp electrical service, water, a fire ring and picnic table. The sites in Palmetto Ridge also have sewer hook ups. A dump station is located near Old Prairie Campground. Laundry facilities are available to all campers in Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds. All campsites are located within 40 yards of restroom facilities with hot showers.

Sites in Old Prairie and Big Flats are dirt based. The sites in Palmetto Ridge are gravel-based, except for four ADA paved sites adjoining rest rooms. Old Prairie and Big Flats do not have vegetation buffers.

The Big Flats Campground is located near the Upper Myakka Lake, Myakka Outpost, a fishing deck, and WiFi.

Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds are located near the S.R. 72 park entrance, the Myakka River, the campfire circle, a small playground, and Myakka Friends Gift Shop. Well behaved pets are welcome in these three campgrounds, up to 4 per site.

Hammock camping is permitted on campsites #7, 8, 11, 15, 23, 27, 33, 48. A limited number of hammocks are designated on each of these sites based on number of appropriate trees available.
Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.

Camping Primitive
There are six primitive campgrounds (Mossy Hammock, Bee Island, Honore, Panther Point, Oak Grove, and Prairie) located along the hiking trails for backpackers. These rustic settings provide campers with a fire pit and post to hang items. Each campground has three campsites, and a maximum of four people may be on each site. Only Bee Island, Oak Grove, and Prairie have water pumps. Water at these sites is not potable; it requires boiling/chemical treatment. Other sites do not have water; you must bring your own. The terrain is primarily prairie, and even on the coolest days dehydration is possible.

Camping, Primitive Group
Myakka has three group/youth camping areas that are available for non-profit, organized groups to rent (boy/girl scouts, school groups, etc.). Bathroom and water facilities are available. No electricity is available. Each of the three sites holds up to 20 people/6 tents.

Fishing
Fishing is permitted in the park for those with a Florida Freshwater Fishing License. Fishing licenses are not sold at the park

Do not dispose of fishing line or other materials in the water.
Do not feed or disturb the alligators.
Brown Hoplo, Blue Tilapia, Vermiculated Sailfin Catfish, and Walking Catfish are exotic/invasive species. If you catch them, please do not release them live in the water. Dispose of them properly.
Castnetting is permitted for exotic species catch only. No castnetting from structures.
Crabbing, frogging, spear fishing, and bow fishing are strictly prohibited.
Myakka does not have a specified fishing pier,but fishers are welcome around the Upper Myakka Lake and Myakka River. Good spots to fish include behind the South Pavilion, Log Pavilion, and nearby the Clay Gully Pavilion. Many people choose to fish from the bridge; please be aware of overcrowding and traffic situations.

Geo-Seeking

Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech "treasure" hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.

Operation Recreation GeoTour

Hiking

The Myakka Trail includes a 38.9-mile hiking loop trail maintained by the Florida Trail Association. Backcountry roads crisscross the trail allowing hikers to shorten or lengthen hiking trips. Discover shady live oak/palm hammocks, sandy pine flatwoods, sunny dry prairies, and marshes teeming with life.

Hiking at Myakka offers visitors relief from life's daily hassle and a chance to get away from it all. Late fall, winter, and early spring are ideal hiking seasons. Summer hiking, especially on the shadeless prairie, can be extremely hot and hikers should beware of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Insects may be a problem at any time. Trails are often flooded during rainy periods and may be overgrown in the summer and early fall.

Always carry water, a map, and compass or GPS. Wear appropriate sturdy footwear. Maps are available at the Ranger Station.

Horseback Riding
Myakka has 12 miles of designated horse trails. If ridden together, it becomes a 15-mile journey. Upon arrival at the park, riders must bring proof of negative coggins test to the Ranger Station for all horses on the state park property. The Ranger Station will provide the gate code for access to the horse trails.

Mountain Biking
Myakka offers bicyclists an opportunity to explore diverse Florida ecosystems. Bicycles are permitted on backcountry dirt roads north of S.R. 72 and on the Myakka Island Trail to the Carlton Reserve. Some roads are hardpacked and grassed-over, others may be sandy, muddy or dug up by feral pigs. Roads are often flooded in summer.

Maps are available at the Ranger Station. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.

Paddling

The 66-mile "Florida Wild and Scenic" Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands, starting in NE Manatee County and ending in Charlotte Harbor. Fourteen miles flows through Myakka River State Park. The river and its two shallow lakes attract a myriad of wetland creatures making birding, canoeing, fishing, and wildlife observation popular activities. Canoeing and kayaking south of State Road 72, within the park, is limited access and requires a permit from the ranger station.

Paddlers should be aware of water levels. During the dry season, portaging may be required in many places along the river. During the wet season, the river current becomes very strong and the river widens into nearby hammocks, potentially causing navigational difficulties. Please be sure to check weather and wind conditions before planning your trip.

If you plan to canoe or kayak during your visit, you may bring your own vessel or rent from the Outpost located within the park.

Wildlife Viewing
58 square miles of protected nature allow visitors to see a plethora of thriving wildlife. Bobcats, otters, alligators, and 100+ species of birds can be seen at Myakka. The Florida Dry Prairie, a globally imperiled ecosystem, comprises more than half the park. This is the second most biodiverse ecosystem in North America, and it is full of diverse plants.

Amenities

Amphitheater

Nearby the Log Pavilion, MRSP has an amphitheater. Permanent benches face a speaker's podium with a screen available for slideshow viewing. There is also a large campfire pit nearby (to the left of the screen). During season, rangers give Campfire Circle presentations about the park's wonderful history and resources at the amphitheater. It is a wonderful place for school groups, boy/girl scout troops, book clubs, speakers, and more.

The amphitheater is surrounded by a lush oak/palm hammock, immersing visitors in nature and providing privacy from busy park activity. The log bathroom (shared with the Log Pavilion) is nearby.

The amphitheater is approximately 1/4-mile from the park entrance on State Road 72. There is a small parking area shared with Log Pavilion visitors nearby.

Campgrounds
The park features three campgrounds with 90 campsites. Each site is equipped with 20/30/50 amp electrical service, water, a fire ring and picnic table. The sites in Palmetto Ridge also have sewer hook ups. A dump station is located near Old Prairie Campground. Laundry facilities are available to all campers in Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds. All campsites are located within 40 yards of restroom facilities with hot showers.

Sites in Old Prairie and Big Flats are dirt based. The sites in Palmetto Ridge are gravel-based, except for four ADA paved sites adjoining rest rooms. Old Prairie and Big Flats do not have vegetation buffers.

The Big Flats Campground is located near the Upper Myakka Lake. The Myakka Outpost, wildlife tours, and WiFi are also nearby.

Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds are located near the S.R. 72 park entrance, the Myakka River, the campfire circle, a small playground, and Myakka Friends Gallery & Gifts. Up to four well-behaved pets are welcome in these three campgrounds.

Hammock camping is permitted on campsites #7, 8, 11, 15, 23, 27, 33, 48 only. A limited number of hammocks are designated on each of these sites based on number of appropriate trees available.
Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.

Canoe Kayak Launch
Paddlers are welcome to launch at the bridge located one mile into the park from the SR 72 entrance. There are nearby places to park. This launch allows paddlers direct access to the Myakka River. The river flows from the North to the South, and the current is strong when water levels are high.

Visitors may also launch into the Upper Myakka Lake near the concession area. The Upper Lake is a wonderful place to paddle around. There is a weir (dam) separating the Upper Myakka Lake from the Myakka River. During seasons of high water levels, the dam is maneuverable. In dry seasons, portage is required.

To access areas of the park south of SR 72, boaters must have a wilderness preserve permit (issued daily at the Ranger Station).

There is no park-provided shuttle system. Please make arrangements as appropriate before you come or be prepared to paddle back to your entrance location.

Equestrian Trail
Myakka has 12 miles of designated horse trails. If ridden together, it becomes a 15-mile journey. Upon arrival at the park, riders must bring proof of negative coggins test to the Ranger Station for all horses on the state park property. The Ranger Station will provide the gate code for access to the horse trails.

Historic Site
From the 1850s-1920s, the lands of MRSP was used for cattle ranching. The last of such ranchers, Bertha Palmer, is memorialized on Ranch House Road. Visitors hiking or biking on Ranch House can visit the kiosk where the original Ranch House once stood.

In the 1930's, the Civilian Conservation Corps came to the Myakka River Valley to make it accessible as a park. Their legacy lives in many of the trails, structures, and buildings in the park. The Visitor Center, South Pavilion, Log Pavilion, five cabins, the boat basin, and the Weir were built by the CCC.

Mountain Bike Trail
Myakka offers bicyclists an opportunity to explore diverse Florida ecosystems. Bicycles are permitted on backcountry dirt roads north of S.R. 72 and on the Myakka Island Trail to the Carlton Reserve. Some roads are hardpacked and grassed-over, others may be sandy, muddy, or dug up by feral pigs. Roads are often flooded in summer.

Maps are available at the Ranger Station and Visitor Center. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.

Nature Trail

The William Boylston Nature Trail is a self-guided interpretive walk. Along this 0.8-mile journey, visitors can learn about the wildlife and ecology of Florida's oak/palm hammocks. The Canopy Walkway is located on the southwestern portion of the Nature Trail.

Experiencing this thriving hammock is thrilling for adults and children alike. To guide the fun, we have created a scavenger hunt for information. It can be done alone or in small, competitive "teams."

Pets
Domestic pets are welcome at Myakka River State Park, including on trails and in developed campgrounds. Please do not bring pets into buildings (including bathrooms and cabins) or onto structures (including the Canopy Walkway). Trained service animals welcome.

Picnic Pavilion
There are many informal places to picnic in Myakka with benches and grills. Many large groups enjoy reserving a pavilion for their get-togethers. MRSP has four reservable pavilions.

Playground
Myakka has two small playgrounds in the park. One is near the entrance on SR 72 and close to the South Pavilion. The other is located on the north side of the park, near the Clay Gully Pavilion. Children must always be supervised by a responsible adult.

RV
The park features three campgrounds with 90 campsites. Each site is equipped with 20/30/50 amp electrical service, water, a fire ring and picnic table. The sites in Palmetto Ridge also have sewer hook ups. A dump station is located near Old Prairie Campground. Laundry facilities are available to all campers in Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds. All campsites are located within 40 yards of restroom facilities with hot showers.

Sites in Old Prairie and Big Flats are dirt based. The sites in Palmetto Ridge are gravel-based, except for four ADA paved sites adjoining rest rooms. Old Prairie and Big Flats do not have vegetation buffers.

The Big Flats Campground is located near the Upper Myakka Lake. The Myakka Outpost, wildlife tours, and WiFi are also nearby.

Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge Campgrounds are located near the S.R. 72 park entrance, the Myakka River, the campfire circle, a small playground, and Myakka Friends Gallery & Gifts. Up to four well-behaved pets are welcome in these three campgrounds.

Hammock camping is permitted on campsites #7, 8, 11, 15, 23, 27, 33, 48 only.
Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.

Shower Station
All campsites are located within 40 yards of restroom facilities with hot showers. Showers are for registered campers. Those wishing to shower and not registered to camp can purchase rights to shower once at the Ranger Station for $8 + tax.

Visitor Center

Start your journey at our visitor center! Originally constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, our visitor center provides interactive displays about park wildlife and lots of information about park resources. It's a wonderful place to start your Myakka adventure! During season, the visitor center is staffed with a knowledgeable volunteer who can answer questions and help you plan a fantastic day.

The visitor center is a wonderful way to introduce children to Myakka. This scavenger hunt can be adapted for large or small groups of children. It's a fun activity to inspire and educate young minds about Floridian wildlife!


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