An urban natural area, Sawgrass Lake Park is the product of a collaboration between Pinellas County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
In the early 2010s, the agencies conducted major restoration projects, removing invasive vegetation and contaminants from the soil.
Two boardwalks offer a unique view of the shaded wetlands, one of which offers an observation tower overlooking the namesake lake.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Pinellas Park
Length: 1.9 mile loop and round-trip
Trailhead: 27.83942, -82.66768
Address: 7400 25th St N, St. Petersburg
Restroom: At the visitor center
Land manager: Pinellas County
Open 7 AM – 8 PM daily.
Dogs are allowed on a leash in the park, but not on the boardwalk or in the nature center.
From Interstate 275, head west to Haines Rd N, and take a right. Turn right again about a quarter mile down the road, onto 28th St N. In 0.2 miles, turn right onto 62nd Ave N, then turn left into 25th St N. The park entrance is at the end of the road.
From the parking area at the visitor center, head north about a tenth of a mile. The boardwalk begins here at a covered bridge over a drainage canal.
Shortly after crossing the bridge, signs indicate a boardwalk heading to the overlook tower to the west, and the Maple and Hammock Trails to the east. Turn right here to begin the boardwalk loop.
Dense native vegetation surrounds the well-maintained boardwalk on both sides.
A jungle of giant leather ferns, maples, sable palms, and oaks border the elevated pathway that winds through the swamp.
A quarter mile along the path, a tin-roofed shelter offers a quiet resting spot to the left of the boardwalk.
Multiple species of trees loom above the boardwalk. It continues past a shelter to the right at a quarter mile, then through the middle of a large shelter at a half mile.
After the trail leads through the shelter, another sign indicates a split with the Maple and Hammock trails.
Turn left to head down a short boardwalk to the sandy Hammock Trail. The terrain changes quite a bit.
The wooded path is bordered by grasses, oaks, dwarf sable palms, and large beautyberry bushes.
At 0.6 miles, turn left to begin the Oak Hammock loop. The path is wide and well-maintained, bordered by ferns, grapevines, and oaks covered in Spanish moss.
Benches are placed throughout, to rest and reflect.
A large pavilion is at 1.1 miles on the right, and the path interestingly is made of brick for about a hundred feet.
About a tenth of a mile further, the loop ends, and the boardwalk begins again.
At the junction of the Maple and Hammock trails, turn left to continue the Maple Trail boardwalk.
The boardwalk splits again in about 300 feet. Turning to the left heads to a noisy shelter on the edge of I-275.
Heading right, the path heads through more dense native vegetation, then over another canal bridge to a concrete walkway.
At the beginning of the sidewalk, an information kiosk describes a large garden of plants installed to attract pollinators.
The bushes were in bloom in late summer, displaying multiple colors of flowers, covered in butterflies.
Follow the sidewalk for a quarter mile to the beginning of the loop. At this point, the observation tower can be accessed on a 0.7-mile round trip to the west.
Cross the canal bridge again and turn left. At a tenth of a mile, a shelter provides a view of the canal and possible alligators as indicated by a nearby sign.
The boardwalk splits into a loop, with a sign indicating the tower is in either direction.
Turn left to find another shelter, then walk another tenth of a mile and turn left again down a short walkway to the tower.
The structure is tall and offers a great view of the lake and surrounding swamp. Heading back, turn left to complete the loop back to the visitor center.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Once a zoo in St. Petersburg, Boyd Hill Park has 3 miles of trails looping through a mosaic of natural habitats and tropical landscapes along Lake Maggiore.
Tunneling through mangrove forests and palm hammocks to overlooks on Tampa Bay, the trails of Weedon Island Preserve offer unique perspectives for birders while interpreting one of Florida’s ancient settlements.
Walk through the garden gates into a wonderland of sensory stimulation. With nearly 180 acres in the heart of Largo, the Florida Botanical Gardens is a place for peaceful immersion.