Sunlight glimmers off the tannic waters of Myakkahatchee Creek, a floodplain creek that flows naturally between tall sand banks through the northernmost reaches of North Port. An excellent spot for birding, this off-the-beaten-path linear park follows the natural curves of the creek, with a trail system that loops the creek through the deep shade of oak hammocks and along fields being restored to wetlands habitats.
Location: North Port
Length: Up to 2.5 miles in three loops
Lat-Long: 27.118700, -82.196050
Fees / Permits: free
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: compositing toilet at the trailhead
Open dawn to dusk. Call 941-861-5000 for a primitive camping permit. Horseback riding and biking are allowed on the trail system, but the primary use appears to be for hiking. A canoe and kayak launch is available to explore the creek.
From I-75 exit 182, North Port, head north on Sumter Blvd. When you reach the T intersection after 1 mile, turn left on Tropicaire Blvd. Brown signs lead the way to the park. After 0.3 mile, turn right on Reistertown Rd, and after 0.9 mile, turn right into the park entrance. Park your car near the picnic area.
Address: 6968 Reisterstown Road, North Port FL 34287
Starting at the trailhead sign just beyond the picnic area, follow the Big Slough Trail for a scenic loop walk along this picturesque natural waterway, on sand bluffs above the creek. The trail passes through oak hammocks and old fields, while the two side loops (East Loop and West Loop, both worth the extra walk) enter dense hammocks along restored wetlands. Be prepared for great views of the waterway as you walk along the bluffs along Big Slough, aka Myakkahatchee Creek. Along the East Loop Trail, there is an observation deck and interpretive display overlooking restored wetlands.