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Latest update: April 2022

Myakka River State Park... Florida

Biking Where River and Prairie Meet the Sky

Myakka River State Park, located about 15 miles east of Sarasota, is at 37,000 acres one of Florida's largest State Parks. It's named for the Myakka River, which flows for 14 miles through the park. Recreational biking is popular on the paved park road, many bikers are seen. For most visitors, wildlife viewing is the main activity, and biking is a great way to see it - this is alligator central, and there's an amazing array of birds including the most roseate spoonbill we've seen in one spot. Other activities include hiking, paddling, camping, and more (see below). State Park entry fee applies. Note: The park or areas within it may be closed due to weather or other factors, check for status . (Detailed map and photos below.)


Myakka River State Park, eco-biking

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Myakka River State Park Biking

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Location: Sarasota and Manatee Counties, along SR72 east of Sarasota
Mileage: 7 miles on the Park Road, more on unpaved backcountry roads and trails
Surface: Paved park road, unpaved roads and dirt/grass trails
Trailheads: Designated parking lots, along the Park Road. NOT allowed on the bridge.
Nearby points of interest: Sarasota, Ringling Museums

Bike Shops/Rentals:

Myakka Outpost (park concessionaire)

Support and Advocacy:

Friends of Myakka River

Page Summary:

  1. Eco-biking and Hiking at Myakka River State Park
  2. Biking at Myakka River State Park
    - Biking on the Main Park Road and North Park Road
  3. Hiking at Myakka River State Park
    - William Boylston Nature Walk, Canopy Walk, Paths to the River at Upper Lake Myakka
  4. Myakka River State Park
    - About the Park, Birdwalk, Wildlife
  5. More Information and Resources

Eco-biking and Hiking at Myakka River State Park... Comments and Photos

We usually visit Myakka River State Park for kayaking, it's one of the more scenic trips making the description "where river and prairie meet the sky" come to life (see paddling link at bottom of page). Off the water, we especially enjoyed the Canopy Walk (more below). Insects can be aggressive, especially in the summer - bring bug spray. And sunscreen is always useful in Florida parks.

Biking at Myakka River State Park

Biking is allowed on the 7 miles of paved park roads. Mountain biking is also allowed on backcountry dirt roads north of SR 72, and on the Myakka Island Trail, a 12-mile wilderness trail south to Carlton Reserve, but we stuck to the paved roads. The unpaved bike trails (like the hiking trails) can be flooded in the rainy season. Helmets are recommended (and required for under age 16). Bike rentals are available from Myakka Outpost, the park concessionaire. Friends of Myakka River publishes some excellent biking trail maps, see link at bottom of this page.

Biking on the Park Road

From the park entrance, it's about one mile to the park bridge, a popular stop for fishing, bird and alligator watching. Continuing another 2 miles, the road splits. The Main Park Road goes left to the restaurant, gift shop, bike and kayak/canoe rentals, Boat Tour and the boat ramp at the main parking lot. The North Park Road goes to the right, stop at the Birdwalk - a boardwalk to a viewing platform on the river (more below). The road ends at the North Gate, open on weekends and state holidays).

Main Park Road to Boat Ramp

North Park Road

Hiking at Myakka River State Park

Bikes are not allowed on the hiking trails. Most popular is the William Boylston Nature Trail along the main park road (about 1/4 mile past the bridge), an easy 8/10 mile self-guided interpretative trail. Along the trail is the Canopy Walk - a suspended walkway 25 feet above the ground and 100 feet long through the oak and palm hammock canopy to a viewing tower. We crossed the one-way Canopy Walk, and climbed the 74-foot tower to take in the views.

For more intrepid hikers, other trails include the Myakka Hiking Trail, 39 miles broken into four loops and maintained by the Florida Trail Association - but we're hiking-light hikers so did not visit them. Note: Trails can be flooded during the rainy season and can be overgrown.

William Boylston Nature Trail

Canopy Walk

Paths to the River at Upper Lake Myakka

The historic weir (low dam) at Myakka River State Park was, built by the CCC in 1938. It separated the upper lake from the river in an effort to improve lake levels for boating and fishing during dry season. While well-intentioned, over the years the ecological effects became apparent in the disruption of plant and wildlife communities. A long-planned habitat restoration project was undertaken in early 2022 with the removal of the dam and an old observation deck that had fallen into disrepair. (More information - scroll to page 2.)

There are two short walking routes to the river, one starting at the picnic area across from the concession (shaded), and another along the lakeshore from the parking lot at the boat ramp (unshaded, subject to flooding). During restoration work, the area at the river was closed off.

Path to the River

Historic Weir

Restoration Project

Myakka River State Park

About the Park

Once a cattle ranch, Myakka River State Park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930's and many of the original structures are still in use (visitor center, picnic pavilions, rental log cabins) as well as the roads and trails. The 58-square-mile park offers parking, restrooms, and picnicking, and has a restaurant, gift shop and an amphitheater. Boat and tram tours are available. Accommodations are available in cabins and camping (traditional, primitive, group). In addition to hiking and biking, there are 12 miles of designated horseback riding trails. On the water, popular activities are paddling, boating, and fishing (freshwater fishing license required).

The Birdwalk

The Birdwalk provides a unique view of various eco-systems and wildlife. Originally built by the CCC in the 1930's and now a project of the Friends of Myakka River, it starts in a wetland hammock and progresses to marsh. Interpretative signs describe the surroundings. Alligators, birds and fish can be seen.


The Park consists of diverse eco-systems including dry prairie, wetlands, hammock and pinelands - and of course, the river. This diversity leads to a wide variety of wildlife - alligators, 100+ species of birds, turtles, bobcat, otters, and more. The sheer number is amazing, here are just a very few.

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