About one hour from Tampa (FL), there are 58 square miles of wetlands and pinelands. It took me roughly nine months to visit after moving very close to it, but I finally ended up walking through Myakka River State Park (And Its Canopy Walkway) during a hotter than usual April afternoon.
Myakka River State Park Location (27.2410° N, 82.3160° W)
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While planning my first visit to Myakka River State Park and one of its main attractions the Myakka Canopy Walkway, my initial thought was to go hiking, but it was hot, and I wasn’t “feeling it.” Instead, I decided to see some of the park’s main attractions and try to spot some wildlife here and there.
We entered through the South Gate Entrance and started looking for signs that would point to where the Myakka Canopy Walkway is located. Note: The North Gate Entrance is only open during weekends and state holidays.
Myakka Canopy Walkway
Luckily, we were able to find parking near the trail that takes you directly to the walkway (it has a sign you can’t miss, plus you can get a map at the entrance). From that parking, it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to reach Myakka’s Canopy Walkway.
Walking towards the Myakka Canopy Walkway
At first, I thought the walkway and viewing tower were smaller than I had imagined they were going to be from the pictures I had seen online. However, when you start climbing the stairs you know is just the right size.
I’m not scared of heights, but if you do or if you suffer from vertigo, rethink going all the way to the top. For example, halfway up the viewing tower, my mother decided that it was enough stairs (and height) for her and waited for us at the outside (and lower) part of the walkway.
After looking at the next picture, you will realize that climbing a few flights of stairs was worth it. It was a bright day, and you could see for miles. The only thing I didn’t feel too comfortable with, is that the wind makes the tower move from side to side. We were more than four people up there, and once I finished taking a few pictures, I was ready to be on “ground level.”
Views from miles
As I said, it is worth visiting the Myakka Canopy Walkway but please read the signs, and if you start feeling dizzy, it might be better to wait on the ground reading about ants and ferns. Also, the walkway is supposed to be one-way, so you should stop if someone is coming from the opposite direction. Don’t be that person.
My mother learned about ants & ferns
Myakka Canopy Walkway
We hopped in the car again, this time driving towards the Myakka River State Park Visitor Center. On our way there I saw a small deer, and because this is not a routine encounter for me I made my husband stop in the middle of the road for pictures (there were no cars behind us…I swear). My mother was kind of excited about it too, so that was nice because that’s something you don’t see every day.
Deer at Myakka River State Park
Remember when I said we were going to the visitor center? Well, the parking was full, and we had to keep on driving. Our next stop was the Birdwalk, and there we spent a good amount of time sitting on the benches and trying to identify different types of birds.
Tip: If you have binoculars this is the perfect place to use them.
Myakka’s Visitor Center & Outpost
After visiting the Birdwalk we finished driving towards the North Gate Entrance, and then started to drive back South. We tried stopping at the Visitors Center again, and this time we were successful. Around this area is where the Myakka Outpost is, where you can buy tickets for tram and boat tours.
Something I’m hoping to do as soon as the temperatures start to lower. Also, this is the place where you can pay for different rentals such as canoes, kayaks, and bikes. It is also the home of The Pink Gator Cafe where you can try Homemade Alligator Stew.
Update: I took an airboat tour with my mother and husband in Spring 2018, before the State of Florida changed tour companies. Tours with ‘Myakka Wildlife Tours’ stopped on July 31, 2018, and now we are looking forward to the new trips, but at the same time, we are sad to see Myakka Wildlife Tours go.
Nothing says Spring in Florida more than an alligator with a butterfly on its head
Myakka’s Alligator Point
Our last stop was Alligator Point, and it did not disappoint. There was no shortage of gators, birds of prey and a few herons. With this visit, we only scratched the surface of the things to do and see in Myakka River State Park. I’m looking forward to coming back, and experience more of what this “neighbor” Florida State Park has to offer.
Alligator in “Alligator Point.”
Little Blue Heron or Egretta caerulea at Myakka River State Park
During “wet season,” trails will get muddy. Other areas of the park can also get flooded, so try to call the following number (1) 941-361-6511 if it has been raining to confirm if the park or specific areas of interest are open to the public.
You can pay to camp or rent a cabin. If interested in renting a cabin, try to do it with enough time in advance. There are only five, and they fill up quick!
For more information about activities, hours, and updated prices, please visit: Florida State Parks – Myakka River State Park
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