Accessed via a trailhead along SR 52 just west of the Suncoast Parkway, and by an extensive trail system spanning to JB Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey, the 6,533-acre Serenova Tract of Starkey Wilderness Preserve is the “wild space” to the north of J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park. The land was once a cattle ranch and timber operation between the Anclote River and the Pithlachascotee River, established in 1937 by Jay B. Starkey.
When we worked on the first edition of 50 Hikes in Central Florida nearly 18 years ago, the Serenova Tract had not yet been acquired. Starkey Wilderness Park did not persist into subsequent editions since the trails were multi-use and portions of them have been paved to connect to the Suncoast Trail. But as Pasco County has grown, this 18,000-acre preserve has become more popular than ever. It provides hikers, equestrians, and off-road cyclists more than 20 miles of trails with primitive campsites: reserve in advance with a free permit.
In response to outreach from impassioned citizens, we’re calling your attention to the Seranova Tract of Starkey Wilderness Park because, much like our own Split Oak Forest closer to home, it is at risk of being chopped apart by plans for a highway, despite being set aside as public land protecting sensitive environmental areas along the Pithlachascotee River basin.
Local authorities want to extend Ridge Road into the preserve to provide access to lands that could be developed. Pasco citizens are lobbying the Army Corps of Engineers and Southwest Florida Water Management District (the land manager) to deny any taking of land for road building within this preserve.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Join the Save Serenova Facebook group to learn more about efforts to prevent the road
2. Learn more about the preserve!
On February 17, 2018, join the Save Serenova community group for an educational hike. Meet at the entrance located at Hays Road and SR 52 at 8 AM for a nature talk.*
The Wilderness Hike starts at 8:30 AM inside the Serenova Preserve. Environment Resources teacher Josh Mc Cart and conservationist Ken Bolduc will be your guides on a moderate 5-mile roundtrip wilderness hike to Fishing Lake.
There will also be a leisurely 1.2-mile nature walk for families with children to explore this vibrant place.
• What to bring: Wear suitable footwear – sugar sand trail. Bring water – no water along the trails. Snacks to enjoy at the lake. Hat for sun coverage. Sunscreen.
• Important to know: Extra parking available at Publix Super Market at Hays Road Town Center.
*Hike subject to time/date change due to weather.