With 380 acres of uplands and wetlands along the rim of Tippecanoe Bay in Port Charlotte, Tippecanoe Environmental Park can be explored on an extensive network of hiking trails.
Established in 1995, it sits along the edge of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, which protects the coastal estuary immediately south of this large Charlotte County Park.
With 7 miles of trails offering a variety of loop options, you can easily pull off a hike of 4 miles without repeating any of the route.
With a goal of getting to “Mount Tippecanoe” after we saw it on the map, we chose a shorter route due to weather conditions that day. That is what we describe below.
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Length: 7 mile trail network
Trailhead: 26.9950, -82.1831
Address: 2400 El Jobean Rd, Port Charlotte
Restroom: Portable toilet usually near the trailhead
Land manager: Charlotte County
Open dawn to dusk. Dogs are not permitted. A bike rack is at the trailhead but we saw nothing stating bikes were not permitted on the trails. Since there is soft sand cyclists are encouraged to use the Red Trail.
The Red Trail is designated ADA and has an improved limerock surface. Wheelchair users will still need assistance or an off-road wheelchair as it is a natural surface trail.
This is a coastal hike, so insect repellent is a must.
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.
We started our hike at the main trailhead behind the sports park. Pick up a map at the kiosk at the trailhead.
Our route made a big circle through the park, hitting the high points (literally) along the Brown Trail.
There is also a secondary access point, the Tea Street Trailhead, that is part of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.
It is where the kayak launch for the park is located, into the Flamingo Waterway. Birders may find this alternate entrance fruitful.
Using that access point and its connector trail adds 1.2 miles to any loop you do within Tippecanoe Environmental Park.
The first decision point is just past the kiosk. The ADA-accessible Red Trail goes to the right. Make a left and continue straight ahead into a tunnel of scrub forest.
This leads to a bridge over a waterway. Just past the bridge is the first junction with the Blue Trail, which goes deeper into the scrub, managed for Florida scrub-jay habitat.
Continue straight ahead. The trail joins a forest road through scrubby pine flatwoods with scattered tall slash pines.
After passing the second junction with the Blue Trail, continue to the next forest road junction.
Bear right at the Y. The left is the Purple Trail leading to the Flamingo Waterway and Tea Street Trailhead.
The Brown Trail swings right to parallel a waterway that is just out of sight. It’s a long forest road stretch with panoramas of the open mesic flatwoods to the north.
When you get within sight of Marker H up ahead, turn left. At 0.8 mile, there should be a sign here pointing out the way to Mount Tippecanoe.
A picnic table sits in the shade of cabbage palms. As you can see from the grassy slope, Mount Tippecanoe is a man-made feature, an earthen ramp made from fill when canals were dug nearby.
The views from the top stretch out over Tippecanoe Bay, where the Myakka River flows towards Charlotte Harbor.
They also extend across the salt marshes within Tippecanoe Environmental Park. That’s where this loop hike is headed next.
Descend the slope of Mount Tippecanoe and turn left to find your way out to the Brown Trail.
Marker H points the way off the forest road and into the palm hammock. Slip between the fronds to emerge at the edge of a mangrove-lined creek.
A boardwalk crosses the creek, providing nice views up and down it. Circle around and through the mangroves to cross another waterway, still on the boardwalk.
When the boardwalk ends it deposits you on a forest road straightaway. Tall wheat-colored grasses add color to the pine flatwoods in fall.
At the next forest road junction keep right, staying with the Brown Trail through the pine flatwoods.
When you reach Marker F, an optional side trail cuts off to the right and goes down to the creek.
Continue straight ahead, reaching Marker E. This is where the Brown Trail ends and you meet the Red Trail.
The Red Trail is the designated bicycle / ADA loop closest to the trailhead, with a crushed shell and limerock surface. Keep walking straight ahead through the flatwoods, meeting Marker C next.
Continue past that marker to emerge along the edge of the pond right by the bat house at 1.8 miles. Turn right to continue along the loop.
The trail winds its way through the scrub. It passes two places you can walk out to the large green space behind the sports complex before it completes the loop and reaches the entrance kiosk.
See our photos of Tippecanoe Environmental Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Tippecanoe II Mitigation Area
Set aside for the conservation of gopher tortoise and Florida scrub-jay habitat in Port Charlotte, Tippecanoe II sits just south of Tippecanoe Environmental Park
Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park
Stretched long and thin to follow the convoluted shoreline of Charlotte Harbor, Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park protects more than 100 miles of coastline along the Gulf Coast
Cedar Point Environmental Park
Where Oyster Creek meets Lemon Bay in Englewood, Cedar Point Environmental Park provides easy interpretive hikes through coastal habitats on a wildlife-rich peninsula
Oyster Creek Environmental Park
Along the northern shore of a mangrove-lined creek, Oyster Creek Environmental Park offers gentle hiking trails with interpretive stops beneath old-growth slash pines