Standing beneath tall longleaf pines, I looked out across a prairie along a backpacking loop that continued for nearly 40 miles. In the midst of more than 28,000 acres that make up Myakka River State Park, I could see a full two miles behind me to the far treeline amid 58 square miles of prairie and pines.
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome
With tall waving grasses, saw palmetto, and the sound of birds, this is Florida’s Big Sky country. It’s cradled by the flow of the Myakka River, where herons and egrets wade along the shoreline and alligators cruise the shallows. A Birdwalk provides a gentle, accessible approach to the river for watching wading birds.
Kayak these wild waters, sway on Florida’s first Canopy Walk atop the live oaks, or take a tour on an oversized airboat to see nature in all its glory. One of Florida’s oldest state parks, it’s home to classic Civilian Conservation Corps picnic pavilions and palm-log cabins.
Explore the park
- Myakka Hiking Trail- For immersion in Florida's central prairies, the 39-mile Myakka Hiking Trail is a serious backpacking destination in South Florida near Sarasota
- Myakka River Canopy Walk- At Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, the Canopy Walk provides a sky-high view of the Myakka River basin as well as an intimate immersion in the live oak canopy in a beautiful hammock of oaks and palms.
- Where to find multi-day backpacking loops- Where are Florida's best backpacking loop hikes for 3 or more days on the trail? Here are the top suggestions and their pros and cons.