The Leonard Lee Trailhead is one of just a few access points to the linear Little Manatee River Corridor Nature Preserve.
Landscape in this tract is influenced by its proximity to the river. Scrub-like flatwoods transition to oak hammocks, buffered by improved pastures that are the subject of restoration.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 5.6 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.677266, -82.269391
Address: 2510 Leonard Lee Road, Wimauma, FL 33598
Land manager: Hillsborough County
Open sunrise to sunset. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
From Interstate 75, head east on SR 674 E for 7.1 miles, turning right at Leonard Lee Rd. In 2.3 miles, the trailhead will be on the right.
At the trailhead, take note of an informative kiosk displaying maps and information about the preserve. Head south through a large gate on a paved bridge spanning the Little Manatee River.
Dark, tannic waters flow swiftly below, between heavily vegetated banks under a shady canopy.
Continue southward on a dirt road, following red-blazed poles through a gap in the fence before passing the caretaker’s residence.
In a half mile, the road sweeps to the right, opening from a corridor of trees to an open field.
The trail traces an edge of the wide, grassy area for 0.4 mile, passing tufts of golden-brown grasses alongside thin stalks of yellow eyed grass topped with vibrant blooms.
The well-maintained, wide pathway winds through pine flatwoods mixed with oaks.
Oak limbs hang overhead, providing spotty shelter from the sun as the trail heads westward along a riparian corridor of the Little Manatee River.
While the waterway runs nearby, it is never visible through thick seas of palmettos lining the trail.
In a half mile, red blazes head back out into the open pasture. Surprised quails shoot out of the grassy landscape noisily flapping their wings as they escape perceived danger.
Prickly pears show off butter-yellow flowers next to puffy pink blooms of mimosa commonly known as sensitive briar.
At southwestern portion of the property, take a sharp left turn, following a straight section of trail for 0.7 mile across a flat expanse likely used in the past as a cow field.
Continue down the main road for 0.3 mile before turning right onto the blue trail.
Heading east, walls of palmettos form a border with stark white sand on a road leading through scrubby flatwoods.
Spanish moss drapes from gnarled branches an occasional live oak covered in resurrection ferns.
The trail crosses a small creek in 0.6 mile, which may result in wet boots. A couple of rocks in the middle of the creek can be used to hop across to the other side.
Immediately after the creek, stay to the right to begin a loop on the blue trail.
Shade is very limited for the next 1.3 miles, as the loop crosses a wide-open area dominated by saw palmettos.
The mixture of environments invites a curious mix of persimmon trees, blueberries, broomsedge, as well as orange and yellow milkworts.
Finishing the loop, follow the blue blazes back west for 0.7 mile, turning right at the main road and crossing the bridge to the trailhead.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
In the Little Manatee River watershed, the 579 Trailhead offers access to a pair of loop trails across palmetto prairies and shady oak hammocks.
Scenery, rugged landscape, and botanical diversity are all important factors for a great Florida hike. You’ll find that on the 6.5-mile Little Manatee River Hiking Trail, one of our long-time favorites.
Tying together adjacent Triple Creek and Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve, this nearly 5-mile hike loops through restored upland habitats.