Making up the eastern end of a greenway that stretches along Oyster Creek to Lemon Bay, Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park protects uplands of pine flatwoods and scrub.
This is also a very large regional recreation center with everything from pickleball to disc golf. A dog park is on the grounds as well as a splash pad and playground.
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Length: 1.7 mile round-trip and loop
Trailhead: 26.920316, -82.316149
Address: 6961 San Casa Dr, Englewood FL 34224
Restroom: On the east side of the pond
Land manager: Charlotte County
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trails and at the dog park, but not inside sports or recreation facilities.
The Red Trail is a natural surface accessible trail with a limerock bed under the pine needles.
From Placida Rd south of Englewood, follow SR 776 east. Turn right on San Casa Drive. The entrance to the park is on the right after the entrance to the recreation center. Follow the park road around the circular pond to the treeline in the back, and park in the parking area adjacent to the kiosk.
About the Park
Most visitors come to Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park for active recreation or sports, as there are lighted football fields as well as basketball, tennis, pickleball, and volleyball courts.
There is also a public pool with wheelchair access, indoor recreation including a fitness center and gymnasium, and even a skate park.
On one corner of the property is a community garden. Classes and drop-in sports are offered, as well as rental space in the recreation center.
With so much going on here, we confused the woodlands at the edge of the recreation facility with adjoining Oyster Creek Environmental Park.
And indeed, when we hiked it when the sign and map said so. But things change. Including park names.
In fact, this regional park is more wooded than not, with a very mellow and passive natural area along the east side of Oyster Creek.
Something we realized well after the fact: as long as all the trails are open, you can start hiking west from this trailhead and make it all the way to Cedar Point.
If you do, a round-trip hike through the trails of these three back-to-back parks along Oyster Creek can tally up to 7 miles, if you hit all the side loops.
The entrance to the nature preserve at Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park starts behind the circular pond that all visitors see at the main entrance.
Keep to the right for the Red Trail, a broad shellrock path through scrubby flatwoods with patches of diminutive sand live oak scrub.
Stunted, gnarled slash pines are the norm, with the scrub beneath them a perfect scrub-jay habitat for this region.
After a quarter mile, the trail makes a curve to the right into another habitat, an uplands flatwoods with a thick understory of saw palmetto.
Sand live oaks form a low canopy, just barely grazing the saw palmetto. There is a stile at 0.4 miles leading to a neighborhood on the right.
Right after it, the trail crosses a short boardwalk over a swale in the landscape, and rises back into pine flatwoods again with its scrubby understory.
After a half mile, an unmarked trail goes off to the left, while the Red Trail curves to the right and starts up a long boardwalk leading to a bridge.
The bridge traverses Oyster Creek, a tidal waterway that connects to the Gulf of Mexico via Lemon Bay.
It is lined with mangroves. From the bridge, you can see clearly down into the water where needlefish are schooling.
Large homes break through the natural cover on the far side of the creek. The bridge is long and curving, and tall enough that small boats can pass under it.
The bridge marks the boundary between Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park and Oyster Creek Environmental Park.
You can continue to hike west into the environmental park. Details are here:
Once you return to the Oyster Creek bridge, follow the Red Trail back through the flatwoods and scrub to the main entrance. A round-trip to Oyster Creek and back is 1.2 miles.
You can extend your hike with a ramble on the Blue Trail. This trail also starts from the same trailhead but heads south, creating a half-mile loop through the pine flatwoods.
See our photos of Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Where Oyster Creek meets Lemon Bay in Englewood, Cedar Point Environmental Park provides easy interpretive hikes through coastal habitats on a wildlife-rich peninsula
Stump Pass Beach State Park sits at just the right angle to collect seashells like a scoop, so early risers have their pick of conchs, murex, tulip shells, shark’s teeth, and more.
Explore the edges of Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve in this Sarasota County Park with more than 4 miles of trails – including accessible trails – winding through coastal habitats