Covering over 1,100 acres, Brooker Creek Headwaters Preserve provides a habitat for numerous native plant and animal species, some of which are endangered.
Multiple points of entry lead to an array of hiking trails that cross the property, presenting plenty of options to explore the immersive natural landscapes within.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 3.9 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.136793, -82.555810
Address: 18102 Ramblewood Rd, Odessa, FL 33556
Land manager: Hillsborough County
Open sunrise to sunset. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
From Interstate 275, head west on E Bearss Ave for 3.1 miles, then turn right onto SR 597. In 3 miles, turn left onto Van Dyke Rd. Continue straight for 3.2 miles, before turning right onto Ramblewood Rd. In 0.6 mile, the parking area is located on the left side of the road.
Beginning at the parking area, be sure to check out the kiosk for important information regarding the preserve and a trail map.
Passing through a gap in the fence, follow the trail westward on an access road under a canopy of oak and pine trees.
Initially, muddy spots along the path are easy to avoid while threading through a low-laying area with water on both sides.
Yellow blazes indicate the trail as it ascends slightly, and the canopy becomes sparser, allowing an understory of grasses, shrubs, and ferns to flourish.
Reaching a half mile, the trail enters an open area historically used for agriculture.
As the land is allowed to progress towards a more natural state, pine saplings and sumac sprout among swaths of saw palmettos, shinyberries, and blackberry brambles.
After turning to the right and crossing an old canal, the trail enters a forest of dense pines.
An avenue of bright green grasses leads the way, bordered by auburn heaps of fallen pine needles.
Heading further east, the environment gradually transitions to swamp, and sections of the trail might be seasonally flooded, especially at the crossing of Brooker Creek.
Pond cypresses extend high above the canopy, covered in green needles that turn rusty brown in the autumn before eventually falling. The branches stay bare until the following spring.
At the eastern edge of the property, the trail turns northward to follow along the edge of a neighborhood.
Prominent live oaks stretch overhead while clusters of lichen cling to the forest floor.
A loop begins at 1.6 miles, bisected by a cross trail to provide a few hiking options. To complete the loop, follow the yellow blazes northward.
They pass through an open mixed woodland of pine and oak for a half mile to a post marked with the number six.
Turning left at the post will continue back to the other side of the loop, passing a section of the trail that is under water as it crosses through a small cypress dome.
Continuing southward, the trail is bordered by bay and cypress trees as it slices through a swamp before finishing the loop at 2.4 miles.
Follow the yellow blazes southward, returning to the trailhead in 1.5 miles.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
The largest nature preserve in Pinellas County, Brooker Creek Preserve protects a mosaic of vanishing habitats while interpreting their value along more than 4 miles of trails.
Looping through pine flatwoods in the middle of suburbia, the Friends Trail at Brooker Creek Preserve offers a 1.8-mile hike in a lush forest.
With its extensive waterfront on Lake Tarpon and Brooker Creek in Oldsmar, John Chesnut Sr. Park has always been a popular natural getaway near Tampa Bay.