Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Wet Visit to Florida's Myakka River State Park

We returned to this beautiful park which is about 22 miles east of Sarasota after a long absence.  It is a very well kept park with a lot of things to see and do, although this week we were limited due to recent rains and subsequent flooding of the hiking trails.  There are three rv/tent campgrounds, three youth/group primitive camping areas, several day visitor areas, and more.

We always settle into site #77 in the Palmetto Ridge loop.  It has the best side privacy and space between sites. There are only two sites with partial shade (77& 78). The sites in this loop are level gravel, have an "ell" off the main site for the fire ring, grill, picnic table and sitting area.  There are two well kept bath houses. Really nice loop.
The Palmetto Ridge site has 6 pull-through sites, 30 back in sites, and 2 pull-in sites. All these sites have 50/30/20 amp service, water and sewage. The loop road is paved and big rig friendly.

The other two loops, Old Prairie and Big Flat are older campgrounds and not as big rig friendly.  They are both completely shaded, with dirt/sand loop road and sites.  The sites boundaries are defined with a corral fence. The bath houses are dated, but clean.  We see mostly tents, Class B and Class C units here. The sites in these two campgrounds have 30/20 amp and water. 

 There are 6 rustic cabins on a separate loop.  The cabins are raised, but due to recent heavy rains getting to them was a bit wet.  Built in the 1930s by the men of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) of cabbage palm trunks and chinked with tar and sawdust, they have been updated over the years to include a bath with shower, full electric kitchen and a small ac/heat unit.  Bring some wood, there's a fireplace inside.

This community building is another CCC original building.  It can be used by groups for events of various sorts.

In the center is an eclosed gathering room with fireplace...

....and on each side is an open area with benches and tables. Behind the building is an open area for grilling and activities.

Adjacent to the Community Hall are picnic areas with grills, tables, activity fields and close by an small amphitheater where rangers hold interactive nature events.

Near the ranger station is a visitor/nature center that has a theater with several videos detailing the park and area history and interesting area factoids.

There are several displays of the wildlife in the park. Some are interactive so you can hear the sounds of the wildlife.  Also there is a small aquarium containing the river inhabitants.

 There is a ghostly help desk person to answer questions about the park and its inhabitants.  OK, there is a plethora of informative printed matter next to the desk just in case...... One of them  is titled "25 Things To Do".  Pick that one up .  There is plenty to do in Myakka, rain or shine.
One of the biggest attractions of this park is the Canopy Walk.  Unfortunately, this week getting to it and the adjacent nature trail was a bit wet.  That's about a foot of water on the trail.

If you wade the trail to the Canopy Walk you would see this "bridge" 25 feet in the air.  A neat way to see vegetation and birds at another level.

Attached to the bridge is a 74 foot tower allowing you to climb above the canopy of trees and view the park with a "birds eye" view.

The rains have enlarged the swamp along Park Rd. Water is right up to the asphalt for most of the drive to the north gate or the cafe and day park on Upper Myakka Lake.

Myakka River at the Park Road bridge looking South. Very swollen with rain water. Usually fishermen net casting can be seen.  Too deep.  There is a nice nature trail that parallels the river for a mile or so. It's not a loop trail.

Looking North some of the small islands where birds wade in search of a meal are under water. The native gators have an expanded dinner table.  Kayaking  under the bridge now requires one to be an expert in the art of Limbo. Any more rain and it will be impassable.  And we had much more rain before we left the park. 

The Myakka Trail includes 38.9 miles of loop trails plus there are several spur trails. For backpackers there are 6 primitive campgrounds along the trail.  In addition, the horse trail and many backcountry roads are open to hikers. Most are wet hikes right now. These trails are limited to foot traffic. Bikers have 7 miles of paved road (Park Road and North Drive) Equestrians have about 15.7 miles of trails.


More roadside water. Fascinated with this water level this trip.


Hunting a meal in that water. 

  Small pink flower among the green and brown.

This little area off the main road is a popular stop by visitors to enjoy the river and wildlife.  When the river is a little lower.  We've seen kayakers pass by, people sitting reading a book, painting and napping.  A nice quiet place.

But this week only the wildlife roam the area.

An empty apple snail shell. Dinner?

Take the right fork, North Drive, at Big Flats campground to see another attraction, Bird Walk. A long boardwalk into Upper Myakka Lake.  Usually there are gators and water fowl galore.  Today the entrance is under water and no wildlife in sight.

Not a good day to get to the observation deck.

 The Myakka Outpost at the end of Park Road.  There is a day park here with benches and grills, a fishing deck and a general store of sorts across the street. In this building is the Pink Gator Cafe and a souvenir shop.  Pretty good food (including gator entree's) and typical souvenirs.

Here one can embark on a boat tour of the lake or hop a tram tour through the park. This boat is powered by two quiet Honda outboards. In the past there were two similar boats powered by an aircraft engine with huge props.  Billed as the world's largest air boats.  A much more fun ride with the very noisy engine and props. So much for progress. Now, it's just another quiet, but good, boat tour.

We often see deer at Myakka, but that has been on the trails or roadside.  This is the first time we've seen them in the campground.  Each day we saw two mature doe and two maturing fawns.  Maybe the high water levels have them seeking new feeding areas. They were not skittish if you moved slow.

For photos of the park in dryer days see my past blogs dated 07/2012 and 06/2014.