With 380 acres of uplands and wetlands along the rim of Tippecanoe Bay, Tippecanoe Environmental Park can be explored on an extensive interconnected network of hiking trails. Glossy ibis pick through the mud flats and osprey cry out overhead. Amid these large landscapes, you’ll feel like a small part of the environmental puzzle along the mangrove-lined coast of Charlotte Harbor.
Location: Port Charlotte
Length: 1.9 miles
Lat-Long: 26.994981, -82.183023
Fees / Permits: free
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Bug factor: moderate to high
Longer hikes are possible depending on the sequence of trails you take through the preserve.
From I-75 exit 179, North Port, drive south on Toledo Blade Blvd for 6.5 miles. At SR 776, turn right. Continue 1.4 miles to the entrance to the Charlotte Sports Park on the left. Turn left and drive around the perimeter of the Charlotte Sports Park to find the entrance to Tippecanoe Environmental Park beneath an archway behind the sports park complex.
Our exploration of the park started from the main entrance behind Charlotte Sports Park, with a counterclockwise walk through most of the major habitats – scrub, pine flatwoods, mangrove marshes, floodplain forest, and scrubby flatwoods – found in this preserve. Most of the trails are forest roads with signage at trail intersections.
A don’t miss side trip is the climb to the observation deck atop Mount Tippecanoe, from which you can see the extensive mangrove marshes along Tippecanoe Bay and the Myakka River as they flow into Charlotte Harbor.
Birding is fabulous along the series of boardwalks at the southwestern edge of the loop. One thing we noted on the park map we picked up at the kiosk: the spot marked with a restroom symbol is actually a bat house. No restrooms on site.