Established in 2012, Cherokee Point Conservation Area is all about the wetlands. More than 180 acres of former wet pasture are conserved within this former ranch.
Renovated from a horse stable, a massive pavilion dominates the trailhead, with plenty of covered space for picnics as well as an adjacent playground.
It startled us, of course, to find a house and stable on our first visit to the preserve. However, per the county management plan for this preserve, the stable is now a covered picnic area.
A caretaker lives in the house, with eventual plans for upstairs public exhibit space on habitats found in the region.
Since our initial visit in 2015, habitat restoration has taken root around a pond established as a catch-and-release destination, and invasives have been tackled in the marshes.
Most significantly for hikers, a lengthy boardwalk now provides a scenic hike out to a levee on the rim of Lake Tohopekaliga, the marshes and shoreline excellent for birding.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: St. Cloud
Length: 1 mile round trip and loop
Trailhead: 28.22891, -81.36687
Address: 2501 Cherokee Rd, St. Cloud
Restroom: At the picnic pavilion
Land manager: Osceola County
The boardwalk is fully accessible to its end, as is access to the pavilion. Natural surface trails are not. Paddlers will need to wheel their craft to the put-in.
A large picnic pavilion provides an excellent destination for lunch, with a naturally-themed playground beyond it and a horseshoe pit.
Anglers with an FWC freshwater fishing licenses are welcome to catch-and-release in the prominent pond.
From the north or south, Florida’s Turnpike exit 240 takes you directly to Kissimmee Park Rd. From the east or west, follow US 192 to Old Canoe Creek Rd. Drive south 2.2 miles to Kissimmee Park Rd and cross the Turnpike. Continue 4.7 miles, passing through a 90-degree turn. Keep alert when passing a nursery for the turn onto Cherokee Rd. Warning signs for “road ends” and the lake up ahead are obvious at that turn. Follow Cherokee Rd for 2 miles to its end. The park entrance is on the right.
From the parking area, walk up to the map in front of the house for an overview of the landscape. Turn left.
This accessible walkway leads to a kiosk at the start of the boardwalk. Named for Frank Attkisson, a champion of the environment for Osceola County, it is both a hiking route and the way to the canoe launch.
Flanked by native plantings, the boardwalk acquires railings as soon as it starts crossing the marsh, making an arc through Goblet’s Cove.
This sheltered marsh along Lake Tohopekaliga surrounds the boardwalk with a gradient of grasses, their hues distinct.
From the prairie edge, transition into denser grasses along the wooden walkway. Before a quarter mile, an aluminum walkway leads to the dock.
Firmly in the cattail marsh, it provides access for paddlers to Twin Oaks Conservation Area, the next preserve along this side of the lakeshore.
While the open water belies airboat visits, this platform between the cattails is strictly for paddlers.
Back on the boardwalk, follow its curves as it draws ever closer to a strip of land topped with palms and cypresses.
As the railings vanish, the boardwalk crosses prairie again before depositing you on the levee-like spit.
Turn right and follow the open, grassy path among the native plantings to the pavilion in the distance.
The trail ends here at 0.4 mile, at a fence marking the edge of the recreational portion of the preserve.
The covered pavilion has a picnic table, a prime perch for watching the marshy islands of Lake Toho for bird life.
Return alon the same route, back to the boardwalk and along it to where you began, reaching the parking area.
Head towards the stable-shaped picnic pavilion to go around the fence for the second piece of the hike.
A 0.2-mile loop around a catch-and-release pond, it’s an easy walk. Native plantings hug the shoreline.
Wood storks and ibis often gather in this open area, as well as sandhill cranes. Follow the broad grassy trail around the pond.
After it ends, walk back through the picnic pavilion or around the side of it to return to the parking lot.
Total mileage is a mile for walking the two trails of Cherokee Point Conservation Area.
See our photos of Cherokee Point
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Named for two ancient live oaks that have long guided anglers to their favorite fishing hole, Twin Oaks Conservation Area protects nearly 400 acres along Lake Tohopekaliga.
Ancient live oaks provide a tightly knit canopy over the 0.9-mile trail system at Lake Runnymede Conservation Area, a 43 acre urban preserve.
In the most accessible corner of the thousand acres that make up Lake Lizzie Conservation Area in St. Cloud, the Marsh Loop is an easy 1.7 mile hiking-only loop