A flash of pink on the mudflats means the roseate spoonbills have swooped in for a visit, using their oversized bills to sift through the soft muck for their dinner.
Terra Ceia Preserve State Park is one of Florida’s aquatic preserves. It protects the northern shoreline of Terra Ceia, an island north of Palmetto.
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Location: Terra Ceia
Trailhead: 27.580767, -82.572208
Address: 130 77th Street East, Terra Ceia FL 34250
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open sunrise to sunset for land access, 24/7 for boater access. Leashed pets welcome.
For land access, follow Terra Ceia Rd east from US 19. Turn left on High Tower Rd and pass under Interstate 275. The road ends at the park entrance.
Boaters and paddlers can access the preserve from a launch point at the west end of Moccasin Wallow Rd.
Largely offshore in Tampa Bay, Terra Ceia Preserve encompasses nearly 2,000 acres of wetlands, mudflats, mangrove forests, marshes, and tidal ponds.
It offers a puzzle of waterways to be threaded through along the 3-mile Bishop Harbor Blueway, with picturesque names like Hell’s Half Acre.
The preserve lies within sight of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and is bisected by I-275, accessible only from US 41 north or from the water.
Cyclists and hikers can explore three marked trails from the Hightower Rd entrance: the 3.1-mile Pine Flatwoods Loop, 3.2-mile Salt Flat Spur, and the 2.7 mile Hammock Loop.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.