CLOSED until damage from Hurricane Ian is assessed.
With 210 acres preserved along the shores of Lemon Bay, Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center is a family-friendly place to learn about coastal habitats.
The trail system extends through pine flatwoods with mature slash pines, mangrove forests, and circles and crosses wetlands where birds gather.
The entire park edges mangrove-lined Lemon Bay, one of Florida’s aquatic preserves. Paddlers can put-in within easy reach of the parking area to explore its waters.
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Length: Trail network of 4.5 miles
Trailhead: 26.973450, -82.374133
Address: 570 Bay Park Blvd, Englewood
Restroom: at the Environmental Center
Land manager: Sarasota County Parks
Open daily 6 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. Bicycles not permitted on trails. Shade is limited, so use sun protection.
More than half of the trail system has accessible surfaces: hardpacked limestone, pavement, or pavers.
Launch a canoe or kayak into Lemon Bay from the hand launch behind the Environmental Center.
From the junction of CR 776 and US 41 in Venice, drive south into Englewood. Turn right on Dearborn Street and drive west through old Englewood Village to Buchman’s Landing. Turn right at the stop sign.
After 0.5 mile, make a left on Stuart Street. After another 0.3 mile, turn right on Curtis Boulevard, and make the first left on Brengel Avenue, which leads into the park entrance.
The arbor at the end of the parking lot ushers you into the trail system. The path to the left through the butterfly garden starts the half-mile Bayside Trail.
It’s worth doing that loop first since it takes you to the environmental center, where restrooms and water are located.
Walk the shellrock path past the center to the canoe launch for a glimpse of the bay. A natural-surface side trail leads past interpretive information about mangroves.
Slipping behind a pond behind the environmental center, this trail meets a paved path which leads to a covered picnic bench.
Follow the paved trail to the next junction, where there is a picnic pavilion. Just beyond it is an accessible overlook on Lemon Bay.
Continue through palm-dotted uplands past another covered picnic bench. Make a right at the next junction.
The trail follows a series of short boardwalks along the bay as it circles around a black mangrove forest.
When the trail turns away from Lemon Bay, it is still in the mangroves and has an overlook into them.
Looping back around within earshot of the park entrance, it rejoins the uplands loop and meets the paved path again by the parking lot.
Completing this trail, walk through the parking area to access the Environmental Center.
Stop in to see the displays before heading to the longer trail system in the north end of the park.
The Eagle Trail starts to the right as you walk under the arbor. It is hardpacked shellrock and, as multiple signs remind you, is two miles long if you do it all.
A riot of ferns adjoins Willow Creek where the trail crosses it on a bridge. Just after the bridge is the Fern Loop, a 0.1-mile side trail that takes you through them.
Back on the Eagle Trail, the open understory under the pines offers up a sweeping view across the flatwoods.
The next trail junction leads to the shore of Lemon Bay along the Bobcat Trail. It’s a 0.4-mile round trip out to the overlook.
Retuning to the Eagle Trail, continue north along it. A pair of eagles nest in the preserve, and can be seen from a scope along the trail.
The Y intersection in the pines marks the end loop on the Eagle Trail. Follow it through the flatwoods.
Since we hiked this trail, there has been an extension built from the loop to a second loop trail with a walk-in entrance from an adjoining neighborhood.
Adding that walk along the park perimeter to and from the very short Flatwoods Loop would extend this hike’s 3 mile route to 4.5 miles.
Finishing up the loop on the Eagle Trail, enjoy the ramble back through the breezy pine flatwoods.
Watch for slow-moving gopher tortoises and their burrows as you pass through the scrubby flatwoods before crossing Willow Creek again.
The trail curves to return to the butterfly garden. Pass through the arbor back to the parking area.
See our photos of Lemon Bay Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
At the south tip of Manasota Key, Stump Pass Beach State Park sits at just the right angle to collect seashells like a scoop, so early risers have great shelling
Where Oyster Creek meets Lemon Bay in Englewood, Cedar Point Environmental Park provides easy interpretive hikes through coastal habitats on a wildlife-rich peninsula
A Sarasota County preserve established for the Florida scrub-jay, Manasota Scrub Preserve has a 1.5 mile loop in 145 acres of scrubby flatwoods.