More than 45,000 acres are included in the puzzle of mangrove islands, estuaries, and uplands that were originally established as Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve in the 1980s.
It is now Florida’s third largest state park, but most of it can only be accessed by boaters and by paddlers along a series of marked blueways established by Charlotte County.
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Location: Punta Gorda
Address: 12301 Burnt Store Rd, Punta Gorda
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs permitted. Bicycles allowed on trails except where posted.
The park office is located at the address above Alligator Creek Preserve in Punta Gorda. Use the Trailheads information below to find the many access points to this massive preserve.
About the Park
The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center played a major role in conservation of the estuaries and islands surrounding the harbor, where the Myakka and Peace Rivers meet.
A nonprofit volunteer organization that works hand-in-hand with the state park, it maintains two nature centers, at Alligator Creek Preserve in Punta Gorda and Cedar Point Preserve in Englewood.
Volunteers maintain trails open for hiking and biking in both of these locations. The trails at Alligator Creek Preserve are on state park land.
Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park also has a bevy of much wilder trails scattered from Pine Island to Englewood. These are not regularly maintained. We’ve found some of them tough to follow.
There are entrances at York Street, Coral Creek, and Tea Street that access the state park through back gates. Trails are unmarked but signage and walk-through stiles indicate entrances to public land.
Because this preserve is so large, access is free but other than at the trails at Alligator Creek and Catfish Creek, don’t expect amenities like interpretation, benches, and restrooms.
|York Street Trailhead||7085 York St||Englewood FL|
|Coral Creek Trailhead||200 Links Ln||Rotunda West|
|Catfish Creek Trailhead||11375 Gasparilla Rd||Placida|
|Sargassum Trail Trailhead||Rotunda Trace||Placida|
|Tea Street Trailhead||2298 Tea St||Charlotte Harbor|
|Alligator Creek Preserve||12301 Burnt Store Rd||Punta Gorda|
|Old Datsun Trail||12301 Burnt Store Rd||Punta Gorda|
|North Cape Flats Trailhead||3915 NW 44th Pl||Cape Coral|
|Little Pine Island Trailhead||SR 78||Little Pine Island|
Trails at Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park
These are the trails we’ve personally explored within the state park.
Named trails that we haven’t visited yet include the Catfish Creek Trail, Sargassum Trail, and North Cape Flats Trail.
At Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Alligator Creek Preserve offers two gentle loop trails where freshwater and saltwater habitats meet
Where pine flatwoods and palm hammocks regain a foothold atop formerly farmed fields, the Old Datsun Trail loops what was once an agricultural school
On current park maps, an extension to the Old Datsun Trail is shown as the Hammock Trail, heading north from the top of the loop towards Alligator Creek Preserve.
However, the Hammock Trail does not appear to connect with the trails of Alligator Creek Preserve yet.
This map shows trailheads for all named trails in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, plus the CHEC Cedar Point Environmental Center at upper left.
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
With 380 acres of uplands and wetlands along the rim of Tippecanoe Bay, Tippecanoe Environmental Park can be explored on an extensive interconnected network of hiking trails.
Along the northern shore of a mangrove-lined creek, Oyster Creek Environmental Park offers gentle hiking trails with interpretive stops beneath old-growth slash pines