In downtown Inverness, Cooter Pond Park provides a boardwalk over its namesake pond for birding and wildlife watching, plus a great photo op with a stack of oversized turtles near one of the park entrances. Across the pond, the Withlacoochee State Trail slips into Inverness and is accessible from the north end of this park.
Length: 0.7 mile
Lat-Lon: 28.836011, -82.328308
Type: two round-trips
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: at nearby Wallace Brooks Park at the end of Dampier Street, near the Withlacoochee State Trail
In downtown Inverness, just off US 41. Parking is at the municipal complex or along Dampier Street.
Follow the boardwalk from the municipal complex parking lot to the pond. Turn right for your amble out over the water, and scan the area for birds. It never fails that I encounter some large bird – a red-shouldered hawk this last visit – on the boardwalk railing by the gazebo.
When you reach the shore near SR 44, grab a photo with the stack of turtles. There are picnic pavilions within sight of the water. On the return trip, look down into the pond, and you’ll see the namesakes of this waterway, docile and placid. You might scare up a few gators, too. In addition to interpretive information about the pond and its inhabitants, the boardwalk has games and puzzles for the littlest ones.
Pass the boardwalk to the parking area and continue down the long, linear one that leaves the pond. It’s here that alligator sightings are more common. There is a launch point for canoes off Mill Street.
You can continue on to walk through adjacent Wallace Brooks Park and make a loop with the Withlacoochee State Trail along the waterfront of Henderson Lake, or turn around at the end of the boardwalk and return to the parking area.