Crews Lake Wilderness Park in northern Pasco County offers a hiking loop with a nice immersion into the sandhills, where you’ll see lots of spring and fall wildflowers. The trail loses its natural feel as it passes through the picnic areas along the former lakeshore, the lake now receded due to tapping of the aquifer for a burst of subdivisions between 2005-2009.
Location: Spring Hill
Length: A 1.1 mile interpretive loop and a perimeter loop trail, totaling 3 miles of hiking
Lat-Long: 28.376733, -82.532483
Fees / Permits: none
Bug factor: moderate
Crews Lake Park (727-861-3038), 16739 Crews Lake Dr, Spring Hill
Pick up an interpretive guide at the kiosk near the restrooms at the boat ramp parking area. Raccoon footprints mark the interpretive stations. A map is available at park entrance from kiosk.
This park has plenty to do in addition to hiking, including a paved bike trail, tent campground, numerous picnic areas and shelters, playground, and native plant garden.
From US 19, drive 9.2 miles east on SR 52, passing under the Suncoast Pkwy, and continue another 0.6 mile east to Shady Hills Rd. Turn left and drive 2.8 miles north to Crews Lake Rd; turn right, and right again to enter the park. Follow road to turnoff on right that leads to parking area on the lake where the trails converge, near the boat ramp.
Walk down to the boat ramp and begin a clockwise walk around the loop by turning right to enter the woods along the “Gallery of Trees,” a showcase of native trees that yields to a native hardwood hammock. After 0.3 mile, you reach a junction with the perimeter loop, so make your decision whether to stick with the interpretive (inner loop) trail or walk the perimeter loop. Both trails traverse a variety of habitats, including sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, cypress domes, oak hammocks, and the shore of Crews Lake.