Squeezed between subdivisions in the coastal town of Englewood, Oyster Creek Environmental Park is the middle of a series of three parks protecting parts of the creek’s shoreline.
Trails provide access from local neighborhoods to this loop, which also adjoins the regional high school. Overlooks on the mangrove-lined waterway make for pleasant stops.
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Length: 2.4 miles in two loops
Trailhead: 26.924369, -82.330789
Address: 2333 Placida Rd, Englewood FL 34224
Restroom: At Cedar Point Environmental Center, across Placida Rd
Land manager: Charlotte County
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed dogs welcome. Bicycles permitted.
A kayak launch is a short walk down to Oyster Creek from the trailhead.
In addition to the Red and Blue Loops, there are nearly a mile’s worth of color-coded cross-trails to let you change up this hike. Watch for the signs to follow them through the preserve’s interior.
There are three access points with parking for Oyster Creek Environmental Park. The main trailhead is along Placida Rd just south of Lemon Bay High School, but it is a small parking area. Another one is across Placida Rd inside Cedar Point Environmental Park, accessible by a 1/4-mile connector trail.
A third access point is through Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park, where there is ample parking. A 1.2-mile round-trip trail through pine flatwoods connects the parking area with the bridge into Oyster Creek Environmental Park.
Starting from the Placida Rd trailhead, follow the trail along a slender corridor of forest between the high school ballfields and the creek.
A boardwalk leads to an overlook on Oyster Creek. Just past it, cross a bridge over a tidal creek and meet the main loop, the Red Trail. Keep right.
As you parallel Oyster Creek upstream, notice how the pine flatwoods neatly merge into a line of mangroves along the creek.
The Orange Trail comes in from the left. Underfoot, the footpath is a heavy pine duff beneath tall slash pines.
Here and there Oyster Creek is visible through the understory. When the trail turns so you see a very large house ahead of you, you’re getting near to the bridge over Oyster Creek.
At 0.7 mile, the Red Trail meets the boardwalk and bridge. It’s worth a walk up on it to see the creek from above. Needlefish dash in schools through the clear water.
On the other side of the bridge is Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park.
Although it seamlessly connects to the Red Trail, we describe their trail separately below under “Connections.”
Turning back from the bridge, keep following the broad path along the Red Trail. Pass the Purple Trail leading to the left into the pines.
Pine needles cover the hardened limerock surface laid down for accessibility. It’s a two-track trail in this section.
Jogging right, the trail continues down a long straightaway under the pines.
The height of the saw palmetto mostly shields the homes off to the right until you finally draw within view of their backyards.
The trail begins to swing away from the homes. Songbirds flit between the trees.
As long as you keep your gaze inward, away from the property boundary, you don’t notice the subdivisions along the perimeter of the park.
Passing the other end of the Orange Trail, keep right. A gate leads out to the neighborhood along the north boundary fence.
Tall grasses almost hide a small pond. Wetlands plants, including sea myrtle, creep into the understory mix. Grapevines drape over wax myrtles.
A few inches of elevation change later, scrub oaks take over the canopy as the forest once again shields the houses from view. The Blue Trail leads off to the right.
Take the right, as it provides a different perspective on the pond, first by crossing its outflow. Keep right at the junction to walk counterclockwise around the loop.
A side path goes into the adjoining neighborhood before the trail turns south, coming up along the waterway that the pond feeds.
That waterway is also the creek you crossed at the beginning of this hike.
Meet a T intersection with the Purple Trail. The Red Trail turns right. The trail climbs into scrubby flatwoods where the oaks are heavily draped in Spanish moss.
Coontie and wiregrass grow in the open understory. Scrub oaks create a nice middle canopy under the tall slash pines. Shiny blueberry and gallberry lines the trail.
When you see the back side of Lemon Bay High School – stadium lights and bleachers – you’ve reached the far end of the loop.
As the tidal creek you crossed to reach the Red Trail finally comes into view, you notice mangroves to your right
There is an outdoor interpretive gathering area tucked into the woods, with benches surrounding a stage.
A few steps later, you complete the Red Loop. Turn right and cross the boardwalk to return to the trailhead.
Connect these adjoining public lands on either side of Oyster Creek Environmental Park to extend your hike.
A popular recreation destination for local residents, Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park also encompasses significant uplands along Oyster Creek
See our photos of Oyster Creek Environmental Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
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