Looping through pine flatwoods in the middle of suburbia, the Friends Trail at Brooker Creek Preserve offers an escape from busy Pinellas County life. This was the first trail to open on the county’s largest nature preserve and remains a quiet getaway at the end of a dead-end road. While less than 2 miles long, it traverses uplands and circles wetlands along Brooker Creek. For more miles to explore, visit the Brooker Creek Preserve Nature Center, farther east on Keystone Rd, which offers guided hikes of the 4-mile loop trail system within the gated portion of the preserve.
Location: Tarpon Springs
Length: 1.8 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.129450, -82.670733
Address: Lora Ln, Tarpon Springs
Land manager: Pinellas County
No pets or bicycles permitted. Open 7-sunset. A separate equestrian trail departs from the same trailhead.
While Pinellas County manages the preserve, the land is owned by the state of Florida as part of Southwest Florida Water Management District.
From McMullen Booth Rd (CR 611), drive east on Keystone Rd for 1.5 miles to Lora Ln. Turn right and drive 1 mile to the end of the road.
Your hike starts at the trailhead, where interpretive brochures may be available. Color-tipped posts have numbers that correspond to the interpretive points in the brochure.
Following a tannic stream in the pine flatwoods, the trail reaches a side spur trail after 0.2 mile. Turn left to walk out along the short spur trail to an observation deck over a restored wetland and cypress dome.
Continuing on the main trail, make a left after 0.4 mile to start the loop portion of the trail. Crossing a horse trail, the Friends Trail tapers to a narrow footpath and enters a hammock dense with ferns, going with the flow of Brooker Creek. After about a mile, you cross the horse trail again. You finish the loop through the flatwoods at the 1.4 mile mark. Turn right to exit the loop and complete your 1.8 mile hike.