In contrast to the much longer North and South Loop Trails in the Myakka State Forest, the Gordon Smith Memorial Trail can be hiked in about an hour.
Grass-carpeted pathways weave through jungle-like clusters of cabbage palms and through a sea of palmettos where pine trees rise sprout.
Resources for exploring the area
Disclosure: As authors and affiliates, we receive earnings when you buy these through our links. This helps us provide public information on this website.
Length: 1.5 mile loop
Trailhead: 26.98712, -82.28583
Address: 2000 South River Rd, Englewood FL 34223
Fees: $2 per person day use fee. Annual pass available.
Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead
Land manager: Florida Forestry Service
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome.
Day use fees payable at a self-pay station. There is no drinking water in this forest. Bring your own.
Seasonal small game hunting occurs. If you plan to hit the trails here, check ahead regards hunt dates.
From Interstate 75, head south on CR 777 for 9.4 miles. Turn left at the forest entrance. Pay your entrance fee at the iron ranger. Follow Shell Rd for a mile. The trailhead parking area is on the left.
Starting at the parking lot, head west for about 200 feet, and take a left through the gate onto a service road.
Follow the road for about 0.2 mile and turn left. A sign on the right side of the road designates the start of the Gordon Smith Memorial Trail.
Turn right onto the trail, beginning a counterclockwise loop.
An avenue of bright green grass bordered by walls of saw palmettos passes through quiet woodlands.
Goldenrod shoots out over the path, displaying bunches of vibrant yellow flowers that sway in the breeze.
As the trail is distinctly cut through the flatwoods, it does not need many markers.
An occasional wax myrtle reaches out from the palmettos, some of which are draped with grapevines.
Cabbage palm group together in stands, providing splashes of shade over tangles of low-lying fronds.
At 0.7 miles, the path crosses the North Loop Trail. Look along the road about a hundred feet south of this crossing.
Clusters of a crimson-colored carnivorous plant known as sundew can be spotted along the south edge of the road.
Continue across the road past a sign for the Gordon Smith Memorial Trail. Fluffy chartreuse-colored grasses pave the way as palmetto scrub again envelops the path.
The well-maintained trail passes through more pine forest, surrounded by thick walls of brush and tall tufts of golden-hued grasses.
After passing the shelter, follow the trail for a quarter mile, completing the loop and rejoining the North Loop Trail.
A little under a half mile from the road crossing, a small shelter is located on the right.
Turn right, and continue on the road about 200 feet, turning right again at the next junction.
Follow this last stretch of road 0.2 mile back to the trailhead.
Learn more about Myakka State Forest
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Offering scenic views of wild shores along the Myakka River, this hike at Jelks Preserve makes a big loop along the trail system to immerse you in a variety of habitats
T. Mabry Carlton Reserve is less than a dozen miles from downtown Venice but wild enough that the Florida panther roams these woodlands along the Myakka River floodplain.
Follow the natural curves of the creek on a loop through Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port