Historically, cattle grazed at this 55 acre site owned by the Wilson family. When the ranch was up for development, Sarasota County stepped in and purchased this piece in 2002.
In a nod to ranching history, a few cattle can be seen grazing near the windmill visible from Bee Ridge Road.
Named after Jack and Thelma Urfer, whose vision helped develop this layout of this park, four playgrounds attract all ages.
The playgrounds adjoin Wilson House, built in 1905 and moved here in 2004. Picnic shelters and benches are plentiful.
A paved Life Trail near the playgrounds has ADA compliant fitness stations. A short World Trail near the dog field has fitness stations sprinkled along a well shaded paved trail.
While walking the primitive 0.6 mile natural footpath through the pine flatwoods, look for gopher tortoises, foxes and a multitude of migratory birds.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Sarasota Springs
Length: 1.4 mile loop and round-trip
Trailhead: 27.29727, -82.46553
Address: 4012 Honore Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34233
Restrooms: At the parking lot
Land manager: Sarasota County
Open 6 AM to 10 PM. Leashed dogs welcome. Pay attention to signage: some areas are off limits to dogs.
Bicycles are permitted on all trails. Visitors are encouraged to pack in and pack out all trash and recycling.
From I 75 take Exit 207 for Bee Ridge Road (SR 758). Head west on Bee Ridge for 1.01 miles. Turn left at the Honore Avenue light. Take the first right into Urfer Family Park.
From the parking lot, look for the kiosk describing the area’s history. Take the paved trail next to the kiosk, turn right and go past the front of restrooms.
Turn left and note the Wilson Family and Home historical sign, with history on both sides. The Wilson House is to the right of the sign.
Continue on the trail past the playgrounds. There is a Tot Lot for ages 2-5, a School Age playground for ages 5-12, another for ages 10 and up, and a playground for adults.
Cross a boardwalk over seasonal wetlands. Tree reflections on the still water and late fall leaves floating on the surface look like an impressionist painting.
Stay on the paved trail, going past Life Trail fitness stations and covered picnic tables.
Several dirt trails go off to the right and follow the park’s fence line. These trails are not on the park map.
At 0.2 mile turn right onto the loop primitive yellow nature trail, 0.6 mile long through pine flatwoods.
The main trail starts out as dirt and shell then the loop is sand and grass. Follow the yellow trail markers.
There is a primitive red trail sign at 0.4 mile. Taking the red trail cuts the walk in half.
Staying on the loop trail all the way around makes for a better hike. Portions of this trail can be slippery when wet from water seepage.
The loop walk has a great deal of open area as befits land long used for pastureland. Saw palmettos are prolific.
Finish the loop and continue to the right back to the parking lot. Turn right, go past a retention pond with a surface covered in bright green euglena algae, also called pond weed.
Turn right again for a boardwalk over seasonal wetlands that ends in a T shaped overlook.
Back on the paved path, turn right to go past a large grassy field, the domain of dog owners with leashed dogs and sometimes the site of impromptu soccer playing.
Read the plaque at a small barn. This building, the Albert & Selma Svenhelm Barn, was built in 1925 and relocated here in 2007. It is on the Sarasota County Register of Historic Places.
Turn right after the barn and walk the short and heavily shaded World Trail dotted with fitness stations.
At 1.0 miles walk around the Pine Shores Trailer Park Chimney and Fireplace, recently added to Urfer Park’s growing collection of preserved historic items.
The World Trail has picnic tables and good views of a large retention pond often frequented by wading birds. It ends at Honore Avenue. Return on the same trail to the parking lot.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A historic agricultural area transformed into a haven for birders, Celery Fields offers easy walking, running, and biking on paved and unpaved trails built around restored wetlands.
At Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, the Canopy Walk provides a sky-high view of the Myakka River basin as well as an intimate immersion in the live oak canopy in a beautiful hammock of oaks and palms.
With a natural lakefront stretching three miles along the edge of Lake Manatee, this state park outside Bradenton is a quiet place to camp, fish, and hike