Sitting at the base of busy US 19 in Clearwater, Moccasin Lake Nature Park preserves a lush patch of native forest and a stream for the public to enjoy.
Centered on a popular nature center, where raptors including rehabilitated bald eagles, hawks, vultures, and owls are cared for, it’s an ideal place to take the kids for a gentle nature adventure.
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Length: 1 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.976233, -82.723817
Address: 2750 Park Trail Ln, Clearwater FL 33759
Restroom: at the visitor center
Land manager: City of Clearwater
Open Wed-Sun 10-5. Dogs are not permitted.
The trail system is a combination of boardwalk, pavement, and shellrock, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. There are numerous benches along the route.
From McMullen Booth Rd in Clearwater, take Drew Rd west; from US 19, take Drew Rd east. At Fairwood Ave, turn north. Make a left on Park Trail Lane just after crossing the railroad tracks, and follow it to where it ends at the park.
The interpretive center serves as a gateway to the larger complex. We walked past the raptors to start the trail system counterclockwise.
At the start of the trail system, a sign cautions you about the natural environment in this natural area.
At the Y in the loop, keep right, then follow the sign down to the butterfly garden. A kiosk has interpretive information about both the plants and the butterflies.
Native plants like firebush attract butterflies like yellow sulphurs and zebra longwings. Edging the garden is a natural energy complex called “The Energy Tower” with solar panels and a windmill.
Leaving the butterfly garden, turn right and follow the signs down the shellrock path to Moccasin Pond.
The trail winds through a hardwood hammock with large oaks and Southern magnolias, crossing a boardwalk over Alligator Creek, a waterway edged with ferns.
At Moccasin Pond, a tall bat house reflects in the dark waters. This dammed stream uses native plants like alligator flag along with weirs and rock to filter water running off from the urban space surrounding the park.
The trail continues as a broad path through an oak hammock. You can hear the buzz of traffic along US 19, which is just behind the trees on the boundary of the park at Moccasin Lake.
A side path, the Cypress Trail, leads to a blind on a bluff overlooking this five-acre lake. While it was man-made during the construction of US 19, nature has moved in.
Herons may stalk the near shoreline. This trail ends at a small rain shelter.
Returning to the main loop, stop at the Brigham Dock. From here you may see alligators cruising across the placid waters.
The loop continues through a mature oak hammock with some larger trees. Another shelter provides a place to stop and rest.
The trail reaches a T intersection, which marks the end of the loop out to the lake. Turn right to return to the environmental education complex, wrapping a mile walk.
Take time to visit with the raptors and peek at the turtle pond that sits behind the old classroom building.
See our photos of Moccasin Lake Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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