One of several small preserves on the shores of Sarasota Bay, Quick Point Nature Preserve is located at the southern tip of Longboat Key, protecting one of the last undeveloped places on this long barrier island. The preserve is an important step in helping to restore some of the habitats that used to be located all along Sarasota Bay. In addition to protecting a few natural lagoons near the coastline, there is a man-made lagoon that was created to help support marine life in the area. Nearly the entire shore of Sarasota Bay is developed, both from the Longboat Key side and from the mainland side. Preserves such as this one, while small, are always very beneficial, because a lot of the ecosystems native to the area have been erased by development. This hike occurred on Saturday, February 6th, 2016. My plan was to hike the short nature trail in Quick Point Preserve.
De Soto National Memorial: De Soto Expedition Trail and Riverview Pointe Trail, Bradenton, Florida
In 1539, Hernando de Soto reached the US and landed approximately 5 miles west of Bradenton. It was the start of the first major, organized exploration by the Europeans of the southern United States. Today, a small tract of public land called the Fort De Soto National Memorial marks the location of the landing. This small national preserve has a lot to offer on its nature trail, including a mangrove swamp, a homestead, and views of the Manatee River. Additionally, you can extend your hike into nearby Riverview Pointe Preserve for some hiking in the uplands farther from the shoreline. This hike occurred on Friday, February 5th, 2016. My plan was to start my hike at Riverview Pointe Preserve. I would hike down the nature trail to Fort De Soto National Memorial, from where I would hike the Memorial Trail. to Desoto Point and then to De Soto Monument. I would retrace my steps back to Riverview Pointe Preserve the same way, but I would use a connector to shortcut some of the trail on the return trip.
Paynes Creek Historic State Park: Historic Trail and Peace River Trail, Bowling Green, Florida
Paynes Creek Historic State Park is home to the site of Fort Chokonikla, one of several forts that were built in central Florida to control the Seminole Indians. Today, the historical side of Paynes Creek Historic State Park is not as visible as it once was, with nothing remaining of the fort. Other historical sites in the park include the site of a trading post and a monument. For hikers, the park has several miles of trails to offer, with rewards such as a suspension bridge across Paynes Creek and a view of the Peace River. Some of the park's trails also traverse uplands and pine flatwoods near the site where Fort Chokonikla once stood. This hike occurred on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016. My plan was to hike the Historic Trail and Peace River Trail. If I had additional time to spare, I would also hike the Mary Jane Trail.
Neal Preserve is one of a number of lands that were acquired by Manatee County in the Sarasota Bay area. This small park features a nature trail that leads out to a view of Sarasota Bay, followed by an observation tower with a panorama of upper Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay, and Holmes Beach. This hike occurred on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016. Since I had no map of the trail system at Neal Preserve, my plan was to hike the outermost loop of trails at Neal Preserve, in addition to doing all spur trails.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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