KAYAK LAUNCHING POINTS
LAST EDIT 12/18/2010
We have used two methods of listing launch points: First, by their location names in alphabetical order. The exception is the “Manatee River”, “Myakka River”, “Peace River” and “Pine Island Sound-Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve”. They are all under the “River” name or “Pine Island Sound”.
Where we buy our equipment.
Economy Tackle / Dolphin Paddlesports
6018 S. Tamiami Tr. Sarasota, FL. 34231.
AINGER CREEK RAMP - ENGLEWOOD
Access to: Ainger/Rocky, Oyster, and Gottfried Creeks, Cedar Point pavilion, plus the Lemon Bay and ICW area.
Facilities: The ramp is concrete; the parking area is asphalt. The ramp area has a port-a-potty and trash cans. There are no other facilities. There is a 75-cent per hour parking fee payable at an automated machine.
Directions: From the north, go south on SR 776 in Englewood to the intersection with SR 775; turn right toward Placida. Go south until crossing the first bridge, go a short distance and turn left into the parking area and left to get to the ramp. From the south, go north on SR 775, past the Lemon Bay High School on the right and the entrance to Cedar Point on the left. Just before approaching the bridge over Ainger Creek, turn right into the ramp parking area, then left to get to the ramp.
ALAFIA RIVER ACCESS - ALDERMAN’S FORD PARK
Access to: The Alafia River southeast of Tampa and upstream (east) of Lithia Springs Park, and just west of the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Alafia River
Facilities: Parking is asphalt. Restrooms, picnic tables, and water fountains are available. There is a carry downhill over an asphalt walkway to the launch points. The launch points are on a wood dock system that is underwater, and kayaks are launched from the wooden dock. Which dock you will use will depend upon the water level at the time. There is a short tributary that leads to the Alafia River. There is no set fee to use Alderman’s Ford although donations are requested.
Directions: It is a Hillsborough County facility. From I-75, take Exit 250 toward Riverview (.5 mi.) Merge onto Gibsonton Dr. (1 mi.) that converts to Boyette Rd. (3.5 mi.) Go straight and the road converts to Fishhawk Blvd. (4.5 mi.). Turn right (southeast) onto Lithia Pinecrest Rd., also marked CR 640, for 3.6 mi., then turn left (north) onto CR 39 for 1 mi. and turn left (west) on to Thompson Road for .01 mi. then turn right into Alderman’s Ford Canoe Launch Loop. Follow the Loop to near the launch point. Unload at a canoe unloading area and park in the designated areas.
Note: From Exit 193 in Venice to Alderman’s Ford Park it is about 72 miles and a 1 hr. 20 minute drive.
ALAFIA RIVER ACCESS - LITHIA SPRINGS PARK & CAMPGROUND
Access to: The Alafia River southeast of Tampa and downstream from Alderman’s Ford Park.
Facilities: There are full park facilities available with ample parking. The launch point has a wooden dock with a sandy beach adjacent. You can launch from the wooden dock or the beach area, depending upon the water level at the time. The water deepens quickly off the launch point so be careful
Directions: Lithia Springs Park is located at 3932 Lithia Springs Rd., Lithia Springs, FL 33547; phone (813) 744-5572. This is a Hillsborough County facility. From I-75, take Exit 250 towards Riverview (.5 mi.). Merge onto Gibsonton Dr. (1 mi.) that converts to Boyette Rd. (3.5 mi.) Go straight and the road converts to Fishhawk Blvd. (4.5 mi.) Turn left onto Lithia Pinecrest Rd. (also marked CR 640) for .4 mi., and then turn a slight left onto Lithia Springs Rd. Upon entering the Park, there is a $1.00 fee per person payable at a gate. Get directions to the launch point from the gate personnel or follow the road keeping to the right you will see the wooden launch point dock at the bottom of a hill.
ALLAPATCHEE PARK - SOUTH OF PUNTA GORDA
Access to: Alligator Creek, North & South Branch, Charlotte Harbor and canals in the Punta Gorda area.
Facilities: The ramp is concrete and parking is grass/sand and is somewhat limited. It is located in a residential area. There are no facilities at the ramp.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 161; go west on Jones Loop Road until it connects to Hwy. 41. Turn left, go a short distance and cross the bridge over Alligator Creek and get in the left hand lane. Turn left on to Acline Road. You will immediately cross railroad tracks; go a short distance and take the first turn to the left on to Oakview Lane, then the first left on to Pine Lane. Follow it to the end.
BABCOCK WEBB WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA SOUTH OF PUNTA GORDA
Access to: Webb Lake, a long narrow waterway.
Facilities: There are 3 ramps along the lake road. They are concrete with sandy/grass area adjacent and sand/grass parking areas. Restrooms are about 200 yards from the park entrance on the road going toward the ramps. There are picnic tables scattered along the road around the lake area. You can drive about 5 miles on an asphalt road along the lakes then it dead ends.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 158, which is the Tuckers Grade/Cecil B. Webb exit. At the end of the off ramp, take a left at the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management sign (CR 762 East). Go ¼ mile east to the Park entrance, pay at the “Iron Ranger” receptacle, go straight ahead to the Ranger’s Station and turn right along the paved lake road. There are 3 boat ramps along this road. From Hwy. 41 go south through Punta Gorda and through the Burnt Store/Jones Loop traffic lights. Continue south 3 miles to the flashing lights and take a left (east). Follow the signs to I-75 and SCR 672 East (about 2 miles.) Go under I-75 and continue for about ¼ mile; this will be the Park entrance.
Note: There is a $3.00 per person entry fee payable at an “iron ranger” pay receptacle. Senior Citizens (over 65) get in free, as do military personnel who are on leave status.
BAY FRONT PARK - SARASOTA
Access to: The eastern side of the ICW in “downtown” Sarasota Bay, Hudson Bayou to the south, Whitaker Bayou to the north, Bird Key and Lido Key to the west.
Facilities: Bayfront Park is a Sarasota City Park with O’Leary’s Restaurant, a children’s playground, restrooms, trash cans, picnic tables and benches plus a water jet play area for children. The launch area is grass with a sandy beach area adjacent to the asphalt parking area.
Directions: From the south, go north on Hwy. 41 (Tamiami Trail) in Sarasota, past the entrance to Selby Gardens to the stop light at Ringling Blvd. Turn left on Ringling Blvd. into Bayfront Park and immediately left toward the parking area. From the north, go south on Hwy. 41, past SR 789 to St. Armand’s, to the stop light at Ringling Blvd. Turn right into Bayfront Park then immediately left into the parking area. If approaching Sarasota from the south on I-75, take Exit 207 (Bee Ridge Rd. & SR 758) west to Hwy. 41and turn right for about 3 miles and follow the northbound directions above. If approaching Sarasota from the north on I-75, take Exit 210 (Fruitville Rd. & SR 780) west to Hwy. 41 and turn left for about 3 miles and follow the southbound directions above.
BIRD KEY PARK ON BIRD KEY - SARASOTA
Access to: Sarasota Bay and ICW, Bird Key, southward to South Lido Park; northward to Ken Thompson Park.
Facilities: The parking area is asphalt; launch into Sarasota Bay near the ICW. The ramp is concrete blocks. Other than trash cans there are no facilities.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in “downtown” Sarasota go west on S.R. 789 toward Lido Key and St. Armand’s. Cross over the first ICW Bridge and after going down the steep western ramp; turn right at the first traffic light into Bird Key Park. Turn left; the Park is long and narrow along S.R. 780. Continue westward until you see eight posts in the ground on the right (north) side of the road. Behind the posts is the ramp. Parking is just before you reach the eight posts.
BLACKBURN POINT RAMP - OSPREY
Access to: Southward into Dryman Bay, South Creek leading into Oscar Scherer State Park and the Blackburn Bay area. Northward it accesses the area south of Turtle Beach, Neville Marine Preserve, Midnight Pass Beach and North Creek.
Facilities: There are picnic tables, trashcans, a grill and a porta-potty. The ramp is the sandy southern shoreline of the park.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in Osprey turn west onto Blackburn Point Rd. The launch point is in a park is on the left side just before crossing the ICW bridge.
BLIND PASS PARK (MIDDLE BEACH) IN ENGLEWOOD
Access to: Lemon Bay north and south; this site is west across the bay from Lemon Bay Park.
Facilities: There are no facilities at the launch site, but full park facilities are available Gulf-side across Manasota Key Rd. The launch site and parking is sand. The launch is into the ICW along the east side of Manasota Key.
Directions: From Venice/North Englewood, take SR 776 south. Turn right on Manasota Reach Rd. Follow it over the ICW and turn left on Manasota Beach Road. Go to Manasota Key Road and turn left for about 3.7 miles to Blind Pass Park or Middle Beach. Turn left into the sandy parking lot and proceed straight ahead and go past a children’s playground. Just past the playground, the road “Ys.” Angle to the left and proceed on the most established road you can find until it ends in a circle at the launch points. It’s about a half mile after you turn into the beach parking lot. The “road” is primitive and a little rough in places. From South Englewood: take Beach Road westward across the ICW and proceed northward on Manasota Key Rd. past Englewood Beach for about 3.5 miles. Turn right into the parking lot for Blind Pass and follow the above directions.
BRADEN RIVER ACCESS 29th Street BOAT RAMP ON SR 64
Access to: The lower part of the Braden River up to the Dam at Ward Lake.
Facilities: There is one concrete boat ramp. Parking is sand. There are trashcans and a porta-potty.
Directions: The ramp is located at 3020 Manatee Ave. in East Bradenton. If northbound on I-75, take Exit 220B and go west on SR 64. Go about 5 miles and after crossing the second bridge over the Braden River, turn left at 29th Street E. and immediately turn left into the Boat Ramp area.
BRADEN RIVER ACCESS JIGGS LANDING EAST OF BRADENTON
Access to: Ward Lake above the dam and the Braden River upstream past Linger Lodge.
Facilities: There is a concrete ramp and a sandy area for kayaks. There is ample parking, some asphalt and some grass, bathrooms, a pavilion, a playground, four rental cabins, a boardwalk, docks and slips.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 217B West on SR 70. Go west toward Bradenton on SR 70. Go through the second traffic light and get in the left hand lane. Look left and turn left on to 63rd St. E. In small letters under the 63rd St. E. sign it says “Braden River Rd.” There is no traffic light at this intersection, only a left turn lane so be alert. Go straight south on 63rd St. E. until the road makes a sharp left turn. DO NOT TURN; go straight ahead to the water. At the curve the ramp area and water will be clearly visible.
BRADEN RIVER ACCESS LINGER LODGE EAST OF BRADENTON
Access to: Braden River, slightly above Linger Lodge and downstream to Ward Lake and the Dam.
Facilities: The ramp is concrete with an adjacent earth area for kayaks. The river bottom is sand/mud. Drive to the ramp area, unload, then move your vehicle into the parking lot. Linger Lodge has a restaurant, restrooms, and picnic tables.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 217B (if northbound) onto SR 70 West. Go west, go through the first traffic light, and get into the left hand lane. At the second traffic light, turn left on to Tara Blvd. Follow Tara Blvd. south 1.8 miles to Linger Lodge Rd. Make a left on to Linger lodge Rd and follow it over the I-75 overpass to the next stop sign and make a right on to 85th St. Ct. E. Drive until reaching a dead end in the Linger Lodge parking lot.
BUTLER PARK IN NORTH PORT
Directions: From I-75 take exit 182, Sumter Boulevard, toward North Port. Go two miles to the traffic light at Price Blvd. Turn right onto Price Blvd., then go one mile on Price, cross the bridge and immediately turn left into Butler Park. Within two hundred yards look for the small white “kayak and canoe launch” sign. The launch will be at the bottom of a slope on your left.
From U.S. 41 northbound(Port Charlotte area), in North Port, turn right at the traffic light on to Sumter Blvd, go three miles to the traffic light at Price Blvd. Turn left, then follow the above directions. From U.S. 41 southbound(Venice area), in North Port, turn left at the traffic light on to Sumter Blvd., and follow the above directions.
Facilities: There is a rolloff kayak launch attached to a small floating dock where we can launch one kayak at a time. There is plenty of paved parking for vehicles. Restroom facilities are available at the Morgan Family Community Center approximately two hundred yards from the launch. There are athletic fields, a short walking trail and one picnic shelter within the park.
Access to: Myakkahatchie Creek, also known as Big Slough. This creek winds downstream approximately two miles to the dam at the North Port water treatment plant. There is a portage around the dam, then the stream flows two more miles past the North Port Marina ramp to the Myakka River. Three miles upstream is the Myakkahatchie Creek Environmental Park.
BUTTONWOOD HARBOR PARK-LONGBOAT KEY
Access: Sarasota Bay and a protected canal system along the outer perimeter of Longboat Key Bayside.
Facilities: The launching area is sand, parking is sand/shell. There are no restroom facilities at this location.
Directions: From intersection of US 41 and SR 780 (FruitvilleRd.) in Sarasota, drive 0.2 mi. south on US 41, and turn right onto SR 789/John Ringling Blvd. Continue west across the causeway for 3.6 mi., turning right (N) to stay on SR 789 through St. Armand’s Circle. Continue north on SR 789 crossing the New Pass Bridge onto Longboat Key. From the bridge drive 4.5 miles north to the right turn into Buttonwood Harbor Park launch area just off Gulf of Mexico Drive. From the Bradenton area drive west on Manatee Ave (SR 64) or Cortez Dr (SR 684) onto Anna Marie Island and turn left (S) on Gulf Drive crossing the bridge at Longboat Pass. Buttonwood Harbor Park is 5.5 miles south of the Longboat Pass Bridge on your left.
CASPERSEN BEACH PARK-VENICE
Access to: Red Lake, the ICW and Alligator Creek.
Facilities: This is a sandy kayak/canoe launch point. From the sandy parking area it stair-steps down to an inlet off the ICW. There is a pavilion with picnic tables, trashcans, BBQ grill, and two porta-potties. There’s also a nice children’s playground and work out area. West of the concrete bridge is the Gulf side Caspersen Beach area that has full park facilities.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in South Venice turn west onto Hwy. 41 Business. After crossing the ICW Bridge, get into the left lane and turn left at the first traffic light on to Avenida Del Circo. Go to the stop sign at Airport Ave. and turn right, go to the stop sign at Harbor Drive and turn left. Upon entering the Park, continue south until the road turns left and transitions from asphalt to sand. Go across a short bridge and the launch point is to the left front. From North Venice, turn right off Hwy. 41 onto Hwy. 41 Business South. Cross the ICW Bridge, and turn right onto Venice Ave. Follow Venice Ave. to Harbor Dr., turn left and follow the above directions. If approaching Venice northbound on I-75, take Exit 193 onto Jacaranda Blvd., go to the traffic light at Venice Ave., turn right, cross the ICW and continue through downtown Venice to Harbor Dr., turn left onto Harbor Dr. and follow the above directions. If approaching Venice southbound on I-75, take the SR 681 Exit south, connect to Hwy. 41 go south and follow the directions from North Venice.
CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER CALOOSAHATCHEE CREEKS PRESERVE WEST NORTH FORT MYERS
Access: Caloosahachee River, connecting Creeks, islands and backwaters
Facilities: This is a new Lee County paddle craft launch site. The launching area is sand, parking is blacktop and there are trailer spots available. Walking trails, picnic tables and restrooms are located at the launch site.
Directions: Going south on I 75 take exit 143 (before crossing the Caloosahatchee River bridges) and go west on Bayshore Rd. (SR 78) Bayshore Rd is a divided highway. As soon as you enter Bayshore Rd west you will see a gas station on the east bound lanes. Get in the left hand lane and take the first left turn cross over, then head east to the gas station which is located on Park and Bayshore Rd. Turn right onto Park and immediately turn left onto Mc Dowell Rd. Follow Mc Dowell Rd for 500 yards and the blacktop will change to hard packed sand and will take you to the entrance sign of Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve West. Drive straight ahead to the turning circle and the launch site. We can unload there and then move to the parking stalls. The launch site is less than 1 mile from the I-75 exits.
COQUINA BAYSIDE PARK-ANNA MARIA ISLAND
Access to: The northern part of Sarasota Bay, Longboat Pass, Jewfish and Sister Keys.
Facilities: This is a Manatee County park, the park’s phone number is (941) 729-9177, and there are no fees. Kayak launching is best done south of the restrooms on a sandy beach area, a very short carry from the parking lot. Parking is sand. The park has restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, and beaches.
Directions: If northbound on I-75, take Exit 217B, go west toward Bradenton on Hwy. 70 (53rd Ave. E.) for 7.5 miles to the intersection with Hwy. 41. Turn right (north) on Hwy. 41 for one mile to the intersection with CR 684 (Cortez Rd.) Turn left (west) on Cortez Rd. for 7.7 miles, crossing the ICW to the “T” intersection with Gulf Dr. (CR789). Turn left (south) on CR 789 for about 1.5 miles and the Coquina Bayside Park will be on the left (east) just as you approach a bridge. If northbound on Hwy. 41 from the Sarasota area, in Bradenton go to the intersection of CR 684 (Cortez Rd.), turn left (west) and follow the above directions. An alternate route from Sarasota is to go west on CR 789 (Ringling Causeway) to St. Armand’s Circle, go one-fourth way around the circle, and continue north on CR 789, drive through Longboat Key, cross the bridge over Longboat Pass on to Anna Maria Island. Coquina Bayside Park will be the first turn right (east). From the Ringling Causeway to the Park it is about 15 miles. From any approach you must travel through built up areas with slower speed limits, traffic lights, etc. It’s best to plan plenty of travel time. There are no signs on the road for this park but signs upon entering the park. Keep an eye out and remember that the park is just north and east of the bridge between Longboat Pass and Anna Maria Island.
CURRY CREEK ACCESS-JACARANDA BLVD. VENICE
Access to: Provides access eastward to the Myakka River north of Snook Haven. Paddling westward takes you into Roberts Bay in Venice.
Facilities: The parking area is sand/grass. The launch point is sand/mud. There are no facilities at this launch point. This is not an “official” ramp or parking area but rather a useable launch point along Curry Creek. Be careful! The parking area is noted for its numerous fire ant nests.
Directions: From I-75 Exit 193 in Venice, go north on Jacaranda Blvd., go a short distance and cross a bridge (over Curry Creek), and immediately turn left off the shoulder of the road onto a sandy/grassy area. Turn left and go to the launch point. From any other approach from the south, the key is to get northbound in Venice on Jacaranda Blvd., go under I-75, and follow the above directions. If coming from the Osprey/Nokomis area, turn left on Laurel Road and go to the traffic light at Pinebrook Rd. Turn right on Prinbrook Rd. to Edmonds Rd. Turn left onto Edmonds Rd, which converts to Border Rd. Cross over I-75 and take the first paved road right which is Jacaranda Blvd. Park just before crossing the Curry Creek bridge in the grass area on the right (west) side of the road. If in north Venice/south Nokomis, connect eastward on Colonia Lane to Albee Farms Road. Turn left on Albee Farms Rd. to Florence St. Turn right on Florence St, which converts into Edmondson Rd., which becomes Border Rd., and follow the above directions.
“DING” DARLING NATIONAL WILDLIFE PRESERVE
Access to: The mangrove islands in and around the Preserve, Sanibel Bayous, Hardworking Bayous, McIntyre Creek, Tarpon Bay and Pine Island Sound. The area is shallow water and the shoreline is practically all mangroves. This preserve is a nesting area for migrating birds.
Facilities: There are full facilities at the Visitor/Education Center
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 131 in Ft. Myers. The exit is marked S W Florida Intl. Airport. Turn west onto Daniels Pkwy. Get into the left lane. Cross the Slough Bridge and turn left (south) onto CR 865 (Six Mile Cypress PKWY.) This converts into Gladiolus Drive. Turn left (southwest) onto CR 869 (Summerlin Rd. which becomes Sanibel Causeway). There is a $6.00 per vehicle toll for the causeway; trailers are $3.00 per axle. Once on Sanibel Island, turn right onto Periwinkle Way and go straight to the intersection with Tarpon Bay Road. Turn right on Tarpon Bay Rd. At the 4-way stop of Tarpon Bay Rd and Sanibel-Captive Rd turn left and follow it for 2 miles. The entrance to Ding Darling will be on your right. Once you enter the Refuge, Wildlife Drive is straight ahead but if you need a restroom turn right into the Visitor/Education Center parking lot and walk up the ramp and around the outside of the building to the restrooms. When you leave the Visitor/Education Center there is a $5.00 fee to enter the Preserve unless you have a Golden Age, Golden Eagle or Golden Access pass. The above passes may be purchased at the Education Center. Wildlife Dr is 4 miles long black top road, one way only and has a 15 mph speed limit. Our launch site is on the right side of the road just past mile marker 2. 5 at a brown paddle craft launch sign. The launch site is sand; parking is on the right side of the road before or after the launch site.
DON PEDRO STATE PARK
Access to: The Don Pedro State Park (Gulf Side) and the ICW in the Cape Haze and Placida areas.
Facilities: The Park has restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, and an information kiosk. The parking area is shell; there is a $2.00 per vehicle entry fee payable at an “Iron Ranger”. Be sure to have the exact amount. At the time of this writing, a cable blocks access to the ICW. There is about a 300-yard carry to the water’s edge over a sand and shell road. As a kayaking group, if you phone ahead and make arrangements, youmay be able to drive waterside and unload and load kayaks but must park in the designated parking area near the Park office building. Phone: (941)-964-0375
Directions: From SR 776 in Englewood, go south toward Placida on SR 775. Go about six miles, go through the small built up area of Cape Haze, go about one mile and look right for a brown and white sign for Don Pedro State Park. From the El Jobean/North Port area, go south on SR 771 until it intersects SR 775 near the Placida Boat Ramp. Continue northward about 2.1 miles, look for the small brown and white Park sign along the right side of the road and turn left into the Park.
FISHEATING CREEK STATE CAMPGROUND PALMDALE, FL
Access to: Fisheating Creek going east (upstream) or west (downstream). Fisheating Creek drains parts of Highland County and drains into Lake Okeechobee.
Facilities: The Campground area has full park facilities plus a small general store. The ramp is concrete with sandy launch points nearby. Parking is sand. There is a parking/launching fee of $2.12 at the Campground (this is waived if you take a shuttle). Phone (863) 675-5999, or use the email address listed below, to make arrangements for a shuttle from the Park using their vans and kayak trailers. Shuttles can be arranged for two upstream destinations and prices will vary. They take MasterCard, Visa, and cash.
Gauge readings: On the Web, go to the USGS gauge number 02256599 for Fisheating Creek at Palmdale, FL. The minimum kayaking water level is 2.5 feet.
Campground information: Phone: (863) 675-5999 Emailinfo@fisheatingcreekresort.com Website www.fisheatingcreekresort.comThey have full hookup RV sites, primitive sites, small and large cabins, small general store, kayak rentals, and a livery service. Contact them directly for the latest fees, etc.
Directions: The launch point and campground is located in a facility at 7555 US Hwy. 27 NW, Palmdale, FL 33944. From I-75, take Exit 164 in Punta Gorda and go northeast on US Hwy 17 and SR 35 north toward Arcadia for 1.5 miles. At a traffic light with CR 74 and Bermont Rd, turn right (east) on SR 74 and go 42.3 miles to the SR 29 stop sign. Turn left on SR 29 for 0.8 miles. Turn left at a traffic light onto SR 27 & SR 25 North for 1.4 miles. After crossing two close together bridges on SR 25, watch for the Fisheating Creek State Campground sign. Turn left (west), cross two railroad tracks (go slow for it’s rough) and enter the Campground. The office is on the right; stop and make parking/shuttle arrangements here. It’s about a one hour drive from I-75 Exit 164 to the Campground, plus another hour if a shuttle is taken.
FORT DE SOTO PARK IN PINELLAS COUNTY
Access to: Mullet Key Bayou to the east (mostly mangrove lined islands and area) and the Gulf to the west.
Facilities: There are full, and many, Park facilities, most located north of the Fort along CR 679. To the east of the “T” intersection is a campground. This is a large linear park and facilities are scattered about. There is a sandy launch point across CR 679 from the Fort near the kayak rental facility, plus numerous launch points along the narrow barrier island north of the Fort. Look for vehicles parked on the sand/grass near the beach areas and you can launch from many different points. Go online to www.fortdesoto.com for a detailed history of the park, activities, maps, etc.
Directions: Fort DeSoto Park is located at 3500 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715. The Park office phone number is (727) 582-2267. From I-75, take Exit 228 on to I-275 N toward St. Petersburg. There is a $1.00 per car toll both directions on the Skyway Bridge. Go to I-275 Exit 17 left onto SR 682 West / US Hwy. 19 N toward Pinellas Bayway. Continue west on SR 682 and pay a 50-cent per car toll (westbound only) to Pinellas Bayway/ SR 679 South. Turn left (south) on SR 679 and pay a 35-cent per car toll (south bound only). Shortly thereafter you will enter Fort De Soto Park. There are no park entry or parking fees. In the Park, go to a “T” intersection and turn right (NW), look for the Fort signs, and turn left into the old Fort parking area. This is a good place for a group to meet in the parking lot then decide where to go from there.
Access to: Frog Creek, Terra Ceia Bay, Terra Ceia Preserve.
Facilities: There are no facilities at this launch site.
Directions: From Jacaranda Blvd. and I-75 (about 40 miles)Follow I-75 north to I-275 then follow I-275 to exit 2, Highway 41. Turn right onto Hwy 41 and follow it north for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto Bayshore Road (Old US41) for 1.2 miles. Turn right onto 77th St for 0.4 miles. Name changes to Terra Ceia Dr and follow another 0.3 miles to the Frog Creek Bridge. Cross the bridge and launch and park on the right side. If coming from Venice on Hwy 41 follow it north to Hwy 301. Stay on 301 through Sarasota, Bradenton and Palmetto to the Junction with Hwy 19. Follow Hwy 19 north across the Terra Ceia Bay Causeway bridge than turn right on Bayshore Drive. Follow it north to Terra Ceia Rd turn right and go to the Frog Creek Bridge. Launch is on the right side just before the bridge.
GASPARILLA ISLAND 19th St. bayside BOCA GRANDE
Access to: The 19th St. launch site provides access to Gasparilla Sound, Gasparilla Pass to the left, Grand Bayou, the Yacht Basin and Boca Grand Pass to the right and Gasparilla Sound and the Island in it including Sandfly Key, Devilfish Key, Cayo Pelau, Bull Bay and Turtle Bay going east.
Facilities: The Bayside 19th Street launching area has no facilities.
Directions: Drive to Placida via SR 776 south out of Englewood or southwest on SR 771 from the El Jobean and East Rotonda areas. At a traffic light, turn west over a causeway toward Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande; there is a $4.00 toll to cross the causeway, and an additional $3.50 toll for a trailer. The road turns left on Gasparilla Rd. To get to the 19th Street launch point on the ICW: Follow the above directions to Gasparilla Rd. and go south on Gasparilla Rd. to 18th St., turn left, cross a bicycle path and on to East Railroad Ave., turn left for one block and turn right onto 19th St. This is a sandy dead end street on the ICW; there is no fee to park.
Access to: Coral Creek, Woolverton Trail mangrove tunnels, Catfish Creek, Boggess Hole, Whidden Creek, and the ICW in Gasparilla sound.
Facilities: Grande Tours has one carpeted ramp, a shell parking area, restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, and is a kayak and kayak accessories retailer. They also have kayak and canoe rentals and guided tours.
Directions: Grande Tours is a private commercial facility and is located at 12575 Placida Road in Placida. From CR 776 in Englewood, turn south onto CR 775 (also known as Placida Road) toward Placida. Go about 9 miles to the traffic light for Gasparilla Island and the Gasparilla Causeway. Go straight through the intersection and the entrance into Grande Tours will be on the left (east) side of the road. From the El Jobean area, get southbound on CR 776, cross the Myakka River Bridge, and connect to CR 771 South. CR 771 goes southwest for several miles then takes a sharp turn to the northwest. After the turn keep a look out to the right side of the road for the entrance to Grande Tours; the traffic light for Gasparilla Island is just beyond the entrance and clearly visible from the entryway.
Note: Contact Grand Tours for current launch fees. Phone (941) 697-8825 Email: email@example.com Website:www.grandtours.com
HATHAWAY PARK PADDLE CRAFT LAUNCH SITE SHELL CREEK NORTHEAST OF PUNTA GORDA
Access to: Shell Creek. You can paddle about 8 miles upstream and/or 5 miles downstream to the Dam.
Facilities: The Park has restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans and grill. Parking is sand/grass. The launch site is sand/grass.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 164 in Punta Gorda and go northeast on Hwy. 17 toward Arcadia. Go about 4.5 miles and look right for the Royal Thai Restaurant, go just beyond a large yellowish “Shell CreekPark” billboard and turn right onto Washington Loop Road which is also marked as CR 764. Go about 5 miles and watch for the Shell CreekCamp on the left, just beyond the camp on the left are two the entrances to Hathaway Park. Go to the second entrance. This is the paddle craft launch site and is free. If on Hwy. 41 in Punta Gorda, connect northeastward on Hwy. 17 toward Arcadia and follow the above directions.
HICKEY CREEK off the Caloosahatchee River
W.P. FRANKLIN LOCK South Recreation Area
Access to: The Caloosatchee River (Okeechobee Waterway and Hickey Creek.
Facilities: Located on the south side of the Caloosahatchee River section of the Okeechobee Waterway, W.P. Franklin Lock Recreation Area has full facilities including camping, swimming, fishing, picnic areas, boat launch Visitors can view manatees, abundant bird life, and watch boats locking.
Directions: From the Venice area take I-75 south to exit 141 State Road 80 (Palm Beach Blvd). Turn left onto State Road 80 east for about 7½ miles. Look for and follow the brown WP Franklin Lock sign on Hwy 80 for the left turn onto Old Olga Rd then follow the brown signs leading you into the Franklin Lock Recreation Area. Drive straight ahead into the “Observation Area” parking. Do not turn left into the “Beach or Boat ramp” area. Carry you kayak down the east side of the Observation walk to the water. This is facing east towards Hickey Creek.
HIGEL MARINE PARK, VENICE 1330 TARPON CENTER DRIVE
Access:Dona Bay/Roberts Bay Paddling Trails
Facilities: Boat ramp, canoe/kayak launch, picnic shelter and tables. Restrooms. Parking for approximately 13 trailer spaces; 6 or 7 cars.
Directions:1330 Tarpon Center Drive, lat: 27.108, lon: 82.462. From US 41 Bypass, turn west onto Venice Ave and go to the intersection of The Esplanade (1.6 miles), turn north and drive .28 miles to Tarpon Center Drive on left. Turn onto Tarpon Center Drive and drive .25 miles to Tarpon Marine Park on right.
INDIAN MOUND PARK-ENGLEWOOD
Access to: Lemon Bay the ICW and Blind Pass Beach.
Facilities: The Park has a very large picnic area with covered picnic tables, trashcans, a pavilion with restrooms, two large sandy parking areas, and two concrete launching ramps. However, there is easy access for kayaks into the ICW on the sandy beach just south of the ramps.
Directions: From the north, go south on SR 776 in Englewood to Old Englewood Rd. Follow Old Englewood Rd. south until it takes a sharp left turn on to Dearborn Street, go a short distance then turn right at the Indian Mound Park sign, then left on Green St. to Winson Street and turn right on Winson and follow the park signs to Indian Mound Park. From the south in Englewood, go north on SR 776 to Dearborn St., turn left then turn left on Green Street, then left on Winson St. Follow the park signs to Indian Mound Park. There is no Park sign visible going west on Dearborn St. After clearing the business district, there will be an open area on the right (north). Keep an eye out to the left (south) side of Dearborn St. for Green St.
KORESHAN STATE PARK HISTORIC SITE-ESTERO SOUTH OF FT MYERS
Access to: Accesses the Estero River, Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, and Mound Key State Park. Mound Key is a complex of shell mounds believed to have been created by the Calusa Indians. Interpretive displays can be found along a trail that spans the width of the island.
Facilities: The Park has restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, and drinking water. The launch ramp is concrete with a bit of sand on each side. Parking is sand/grass.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 123 and go west on Corkscrew Rd. toward Estero. There are Koreshan Park and Corkscrew Rd. signs on I-75. Continue west for about three miles, cross Hwy. 41, and the Park entrance will be on the right side of the road and is well marked. Park entrance fees are $3.00 for one person, $4.00 for 2 to 8 people in one vehicle.
LITTLE MANATEE RIVER EAST OF RUSKIN
Access to: Little Manatee River- Camp Bayou – East of I-75
Facilities: There are no facilities at the launch point. Parking is limited and along the road and is asphalt/sand. The launch point is sand.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 240 and go west on CR 674 toward Ruskin for 1.2 miles, get in the left hand lane and turn left onto 24thStreet S. E. and go four miles straight south; the road ends at the launch point in the Camp Bayou Nature Preserve Park. The Park hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the Park is gated, but there are no fees.
LORETO COURT RAMP-NOKOMIS
Access to: Shakett Creek, Fox Creek and Salt Creek up-stream and Dona Bay, Roberts Bay, the ICW and Venice Inlet downstream.
Facilities: This launch point has one concrete ramp with one trashcan and one ramp sign. There are no other facilities. Parking is across the street from the launch site in a new county park primarily used for parking.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in Nokomis turn east at Captain Eddy’s Seafood Restaurant onto Colonia Lane. Follow Colonia Lane, across the "Legacy Trail" and past a cemetery, then look for the small Suncoast Industrial Park on the left. Just beyond the industrial park, turn left on to River Blvd. and go northward to Loreto Court. Turn left on Loreto Court and follow it until it dead ends. The ramp is on the right.
LOVERS KEY STATE RECREATION AREA BENITA BEACH
Access to: The barrier islands of Black Island, Lovers Key, Long Key, Inner Key, Big Hickory Island, Big Carlos Pass, New Pass and Big Hickory Pass.
Facilities: Parking is shell/sand as is the launch point. Full park facilities are available at the restroom and gift shop area, which is NOT within easy walking distance of the launch point. If you need to use the facilities, stop coming in before going to the launch point.
Directions: From I-75 Exit 116, go west on CR 865, also known as Bonita Beach Rd. Stay on CR 865 for about 11 miles to Lovers Key State Park. The entrance to the Park is on the left side of the road and is well marked. Some of CR 865 is built up with commercial and residential areas with many traffic lights so allow extra travel time for the 30 and 40 mph areas. Upon entering the Rec. Area, follow the main road past the first parking lot with the restrooms, gift and ice cream shop, etc. There is a sign on the right just past the parking lot that shows hiking, canoeing, etc., pointing straight ahead. At the next large parking lot, turn right and follow the road along the right edge of the parking lot past a tram stop. At the far end of this lot, turn right into a shell/sand parking area where the rental kayaks and canoes are stored. The launch site is a slopping shell/sand ramp; the bottom drops off rapidly so be careful.
Park fees: Vehicles with one passenger is $3.00, vehicles with 2 to 8 passengers is $5.00. There is no extra charge for trailers.
MANASOTA BEACH (KEY) IN NORTH ENGLEWOOD
Access to: Lemon Bay and the ICW, Forked Creek and Blind Pass Beach.
Facilities: There is a concrete ramp, ample unpaved parking and a walkway along the waterway. Full park facilities are available across Manasota Beach Rd. at the Manasota Beach Park, which is on the Gulf, and within easy walking distance of the launch point.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 193 and go south on Jacaranda Blvd. for 4.5 miles and cross Hwy. 41. Continue for .7 miles as Jacaranda Blvd. curves west; turn left at a traffic light on to SR 776. Go for 1.8 miles into North Englewood, turn right on Manasota Beach Rd. at a traffic light, cross the ICW, and turn left onto Manasota Key Rd. then immediately left into the parking area. From the Placida & Rotunda areas, go north on SR 776 to the traffic light at Manasota Beach Rd., turn left and follow the above directions. From Hwy. 41 in South Venice go south on SR 776 to Manasota Beach Rd. and follow the above directions.
MANATEE PARK IN LEE COUNTY EAST OF FT. MYERS
Access to: Orange and Caloosahatchee Rivers.
Facilities: The Park has picnic areas, shelters, restrooms, amphitheater, playground, walkway, and native plant and butterfly gardens. Trailers can be parked in the bus area. The staging area is grass on somewhat steep terrain; the launch area is sand/mud. The Park is a cooling area for the FPL power generating plant. Manatees seek this area out during the colder months, and can be seen from the walkway.
Fees: There is a $2.00 per hour parking fee, or $5.00 for all day, payable at an “Iron Ranger.” No Change Given.
Directions: Form I-75, take Exit 141 on to SR 80, also known as Palm Beach Blvd. Take SR 80 east for 1.5 miles. From Hwy. 41, just south of the Caloosahatchee River Bridge, turn east on SR 80 for about 4.5 miles. The Florida Power & Light (FPL) generating plant will be on the left and Lee County Manatee Park on the right. Enter the Park and go to a circular drive where three to five vehicles can park temporarily for off loading or loading kayaks. Parking is in a designated area about 100 yards away from the circular drive. From the off load point it is about a 50 yard carry down a concrete walk to a grassy bank on a small inlet which leads to the Orange River.
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MANATEE RIVER EMERSON POINT PRESERVE SNEAD ISLAND
Access: Lower Manatee River, Terra Ceia Bay, Tampa Bay and all waters around Snead Island.
Facilities: At Emerson Pt. there are a few picnic tables and 2 porta-potties at the launch site, which is gravel and sand. The area is suitable for swimming and fishing, as well as being a very good birding area. The grounds have several walking trails and historical points of interest
Directions: From I-75 north, take Exit 224, the Ellenton Mall exit. Go right, west, on Rt. 301 and continue on that road which becomes 10 St. W and 13 St. W and Snead Island Rd. After crossing the bridge onto Snead Island, turn right onto Tarpon Rd. There will be a large Snead Island sign as you turn. There will also be small brown Emerson Pt. signs on the right. Turn left on 17 St. W, which becomes 54th Ave. and continue to Emerson Pt. Go all the way to the end of the road into the gravel parking lot. Launching is from a sandy area at the end with parking near by.
MANATEE RIVER FORT HAMMER-MANATEE COUNTY
Access to: Manatee River. Upstream will take you to the junction of Gamble Creek to the left or to the right, continues on the Manatee River past Ray’s Canoe Hideaway to the dam at the Lake Manatee Recreational Area. Downstream leads to the Braden River east of the Palmetto-Ellenton area and Tampa Bay.
Facilities: There is a concrete ramp with a small sandy area adjacent upstream. A larger launch point is downstream near picnic tables and a children’s playground with swing sets. There are some submerged rocks along the shoreline at the downstream launch area so be careful. Parking is ample and is sand. There are trashcans, picnic tables and one porta-potty
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 224 on to Hwy. 301 North for about two miles to traffic light and turn right onto Old Tampa Rd. There is a Whitney Bank building on the right corner, a 7-11 store to the right front, and a CVS pharmacy diagonally across the road. Continue east on Old Tampa Rd for about 3.5 miles to a stop sign at Fr. Hammer Rd. Turn right on Ft Hammer Rd, go past the Annie Lucy Williams Elementary school on the left, and continue for about 1.75 miles until the road dead ends at the launch point.
MANATEE RIVER LAKE MANATEE EAST OF BRADENTON
Access to: Lake Manatee, Gilley Creek, and the Manatee River.
Facilities: The launch point is sand; parking is sand/grass. There is one porta-potty and a dumpster but no other facilities. This is the north end of Lake Manatee behind a dam on the Manatee River.
Directions: Northbound on I-75, take Exit 220A and go east on SR 64. Southbound on I-75 take Exit 220 and get on SR 64 East. Go east about 11 miles, cross over a bridge on the SE part of Lake Manatee, go left toward Parrish on to CR 675 (also named Rutland Road) and take the first left turn onto a dirt road. Look for the “Lake Manatee Fish Camp” on the left side of the road. Go about 2/10th of a mile to the lake.
MANATEE RIVER RAY’S CANOE HIDEAWAY
Access to: The upper part of the Manatee River; can go upstream to the dam at the Lake Manatee State Park (a 5.5 mile paddle.) You cannot portage around the dam.
Facilities: Ray’s is a private facility. The launch ramp is carpet covered concrete with a floating wooden extension. There is ample parking, which is sand/grass. The launch point drops off rapidly into deep water so be careful. Ray’s has restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, and an outdoor showerhead.
Directions: Ray’s street address is 1247 Hagle Park Rd., Bradenton 34212. If northbound on I-75 take Exit 220A, if southbound, take Exit 220. Go east on SR 64 toward Wauchula & Zolfo Springs. Go about 3 miles to a traffic light at the Upper Manatee River Rd. NE. Turn left onto the Upper Manatee River Rd. for about 5 miles. The road curves to the right. Look for a small blue and white canoe launch sign along the roadway plus a Ray’s Canoe Hideaway sign and immediately turn left onto Hagle Park Rd. NE and go through a residential area. Go to a “T” intersection and turn left onto a dirt drive. Follow the drive and signs to Ray’s Canoe Hideaway.
Fees: There is a $6.00 per vehicle parking fee (no added tax). When paying your fee at the office, request a sketch map of the river and area.
Days and hours open: Ray’s is closed on Wednesdays except holidays or by special request. Open dawn to dusk. Phone local 941-747-3903 or toll free 1-888-572-2663 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Websitewww.rayscanoehideaway.com
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MARINA BOAT RAMP PARK OLD RAILROAD STATION-VENICE
Access to: Into Roberts Bay and Curry Creek, Dona Bay and Shakett Creek, Venice Inlet, Lyons Bay, and the ICW north and south of Venice.
Facilities: There are two concrete ramps with no beach area, covered picnic tables, trashcans, paved parking area, and a close-by porta-potty. The railroad station was refurbished into a museum, and bus transfer station, and now has restrooms.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 193 and to south on Jacaranda Blvd. to the traffic light on Venice Ave. Turn right, cross Hwy. 41 Bypass, and continue west on Venice Avenue. Just as you approach the ramp on to the ICW Bridge, stay to the right and drive parallel to the bridge ramp. The road will curve right, continue and the ramp will be to the left. This is close to the old railroad station in Venice. From Hwy 41 bypass in Venice, turn west on Venice Ave. and follow the above directions. From Hwy. 41 in downtown Venice, go east on Venice Ave, cross the ICW, then make a sharp “U” turn and follow Venice Ave. westward paralleling the bridge ramp, then follow the road as it curves right.
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MYAKKA RIVER CARLTON PRESERVE
Access to: The Myakka River one river mile north of Snook Haven.
Facilities: There are none. There is a long, narrow sand/grass parking area.
Directions: From Exit 193 off I-75, get on to Jacaranda Blvd. and go north. If coming from the east, south or west in Venice, get northbound on Jacaranda Blvd. Go north until the “T” intersection with Border Rd, turn right and cross the Myakka River Bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, look to the left for the end of the road guard railing and turn left off Border Road than turn left again and parallel the road to the barrier fence. The launch site is about 150 along a wood chip path and is on a very small “inlet” along the river. Launch into the inlet off the Myakka River yards.
MYAKKA RIVER DEER PRAIRIE CREEK
(BETWEEN VENICE AND NORTH PORT)
This 6,400 acre preserve is named after Deer Prairie Creek, a tributary of the Myakka River that flows through the property that provides complete protection of the creek in Sarasota County and six miles of the Myakka River’s east bank. There are more than 60 miles of unpaved hiking/biking/equestrian trails, accessible for most visitors.
Access to the Myakka River five miles downstream from Snook Haven and five miles upstream from North Port Marina Ramp.
FACILITIES: There are picnic tables w/shelters/no grills, parking for kayak/canoe trailers, and handicapped accessible observation areas near the lake just upstream of the dam. The kayak launch is gravel with timber steps leading into a shallow channel off the creek. There is a Porta-Potti at the parking lot.
From I-75 take Exit 191, River Road. Follow River Road approximately six miles south to its intersection with Hwy 41. Turn left(south) on Hwy 41. Go one mile to the crossover near the large RV storage facility on the left. Make a u-turn at the crossover, go ¼ mile north on Hwy 41 and turn right on to the gravel road at the park entrance. Then drive 0.9 mile to the kayak launch on the left. Parking is approximately 200 yards past the launch point.
From Venice and points north on Hwy 41. Follow Hwy 41 south past the traffic light at River Rd. then follow the above directions.
From North Port and Port Charlotte areas. Follow Hwy 41 norththrough North Port past Ortiz Blvd., then past the large RV storagefacility on the right, and follow the above directions.
MYAKKA RIVER EL JOBEAN PARK RAMP IN EL JOBEAN
Access to: The downstream end of the Myakka River. Tippecanoe Bay, and the north end of Charlotte Harbor
Facilities: The park area has a sandy parking lot, a concrete ramp with rocks on each side, one porta-potty, picnic tables and trashcans. Note the parking area for vehicles with and without trailers. There is a 75-cents per hour fee to park here.
Directions: If southbound on Hwy. 41 in North Port Charlotte look to the western (right) side of the Hwy. For a Circle 76 gas station and a traffic light at Cornelius Blvd. turn right (southwest) on to Cornelius Blvd. And follow to SR 776; turn right (westerly). If northbound on Hwy. 41 in South Port Charlotte turn left (southwest) onto SR 776. Now all being southwest bound on SR 776, look to the left for a yellowish brown tiki bar named the Joy-Seas Port-O-Call, and a light gray colored sheet metal building housing the Gulf Coast Marine Center II. Turn left off SR 776 just before the tike bar and left into the parking lot. If coming from the Placida and Rotonda areas on SR 771 & 776, cross the Myakka River Bridge, go through a flashing yellow traffic light, and turn right just beyond the Marine Center and tiki bar, then turn left into the parking area.
MYAKKA RIVER MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK
Access: To the Myakka River going north and (mostly) south.
Launch points: There are five good launch points in the park. The South picnic area has a very large picnic area with covered picnic tables,
a pavilion with restrooms, large paved parking area with a drop off circle. Go past the Ranger Station and immediately turn right into a large asphalt parking area. However, there is a 160+ yard carry distance to the river. Just a short distance away, at launch point 2, the carry distance is much shorter. Launch points 3, 4 & 5 are right on the water.
2. After passing the Ranger Station at the south entrance, go north on the road for perhaps one-forth of a mile. On the right (east) side of the road will be picnic tables and a pavilion. On the left side of the road is a horseshoe shaped asphalt-parking area. There is about a 75-yard carry from the roadway to the riverbank.
3 & 4. Into the park there’s a bridge over the Myakka River. Parking is west of the bridge and south of the road on sand. Parking is limited to about 12 vehicles. The launch point is sand/mud. There are no facilities.
Across the bridge on the left (west) side of the road is another small sand parking area and a launch point. Parking is limited to about 8 vehicles. There are no facilities.
5. Continuing into the park, go to the concession stand and air boat launch point area. Go beyond the airboat launch and there is a concrete ramp with sand/dirt areas adjacent to it. Parking is asphalt; restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, concession stand, kayak/canoe/bicycle rentals are available; this is a large area and can accommodate a large crowd.Warning: Many vultures frequent the parking lot near the ramp at the concession stand. They can peck at and destroy any rubber or plastic that is exposed, such as windshield wiper blades, gaskets, kayak rack pads, etc. Consider some method of covering your vehicle when parking here.
Fees: All state parks have fees and they vary per park. Check with the park you will launch at.
Directions: From I-75 Exit 205 in Sarasota, to east on SR 72 for about 8.5 miles. Turn left (north) into the Park. The park is well marked with signs along the roadway.
MYAKKA RIVER NORTH PORT MARINA RAMP
Access to: Myakkahatchie Creek and backwaters, the Myakka River and Deer Prairie Creek.
Facilities: The Park has a concrete ramp with no sandy beach area, a gazebo with picnic tables, trashcans, and a BBQ grill. The parking area is asphalt with additional grassy area parking. There are no rest rooms.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in North Port turn west at the traffic light at the Biscayne Plaza Shopping Center on to Biscayne Drive and go .6 miles over a canal and turn right on to Branch Terrace. Go 100 feet and turn right on to Kenwood Drive for .6 miles and the Park will be on the right.
MYAKKA RIVER SNOOK HAVEN COUNTY PARK EAST OF VENICE
Access to: The Myakka River up and downstream
Facilities: Park and launch from a small launch area past the canoe rental facility upstream from the restaurant. Parking is sand and is mostly near the canoe rental facility. There is an “Old Florida” restaurant, restrooms, and picnic tables. This is now a Sarasota County Park with the restaurant being a leased concession.
Directions: From I-75 Exit 191, go south on River Road to Venice Avenue. Turn left (east) on Venice Ave. and follow it to its end. From Hwy. 41 is South Venice, a short distance west of the Myakka River Bridge, turn north at the traffic light onto River Road and go about 4.5 miles to Venice Ave. Turn right (east) to the road’s end. From Hwy. 41 in “central” Venice go east about six miles on Venice Ave. to its end. The key, obviously, from any destination, is to get eastbound on Venice Ave. and follow it all the way to its end in the Snook Haven County Park on the Myakka River.
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NOKOMIS BEACH-VENICE INLET NORTH JETTY
Access to: The Gulf through the inlet, the ICW northward. East into Lyons Bay, Dona Bay and Shakett Creek; Roberts Bay and Curry Creek; and the ICW southward.
Facilities: The parking area is sandy as is the launch point. There are picnic tables and trashcans nearby, and the North Jetty Fish Camp that sells a limited variety of food and beverage items. Just west toward the Gulf coast are restrooms within easy walking distance.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in Nokomis, go west on Albee Rd., cross the ICW bridge to Casey Key Rd, turn left and go south until reaching the North Jetty Fish Camp, turn left to a sandy launch area on the ICW.
OVERLOOK PARK-SOUTH END OF LONGBOAT KEY
Access to: New Pass Inlet Bridge. Leads to the Gulf of Mexico or to Sarasota Bay past the Quick Point Nature Preserve along Longboat Key and into a cannel system behind bayside barrier islands. Or south to and Ken Thompson Park and St. Armand’s Circle.
Facilities: The parking area is sand and is divided by a palm tree median. Park in the area with the median. The launch area is sand into a protected inlet of the Gulf. There are covered picnic tables, trashcans, but no restrooms.
Directions: From Hwy 41. in “downtown” Sarasota, go west on SR 789 toward Lido Key and St. Armand’s. Continue west to St. Armand’s Circle, to one-fourth way around the circle, and turn right (north) on SR 789 toward Longboat Key and the Mote Aquarium. Go straight north and cross the bridge over New Pass, and at the north end of the bridge ramp immediately turn left into the Park. If southbound on SR 789 on Longboat Key, turn right (west) just before approaching the bridge ramp.
OYSTER CREEK RAMP-ENGLEWOOD
Access to: Oyster Creek upstream (eastward) from the SR 775 Bridge. To the west, access to Cedar Point, the ICW, and Lemon Bay.
Facilities: Parking is shell/rock; there are about 20 parking places, and a 60-yard carry over a shell/rock path from the parking area to the launch point. The launch point is sand/shell. There are no facilities of any sort at this time.
Directions: From the north, go south on SR 776 in Englewood to the intersection with SR 775; turn right (south) toward Placida. Go south past the Ainger Creek Park to the first traffic light. On the right is a Dairy Queen and to the left front is the Lemon Bay High School. Continue south to the second left hand turn after the light. Turn left just beyond the Lemon Bay High School onto an (presently) unnamed street. The road is crushed shell and rock. From the south, go north on SR 775, note the Blue Lagoon Restaurant on the right, go over a bridge (Oyster Creek), and turn right immediately after the guardrails end. The unnamed road entrance is directly across from the entrance to the Cedar Point Park. Once on the shell road, on the left will be a chain link fence beyond which is a retention pond. Go a short distance and the road turns right into a loop.
PALMA SOLA CAUSEWAY WEST OF BRADENTON
Access to: Palma Sola Bay, Perico Island, Perico Bayou, Robinson Preserve, Anna Maria Sound, and area.
Facilities: The launch and parking areas are sand/shell. Restrooms and a picnic area are to the east on the causeway.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 220B and go west on Hwy. 64 (also named Manatee Ave.) for 11 miles. The road coverts to the Palma Sole Causeway. Continue on the causeway, and cross a bridge. There are picnic huts and a restroom building on the right side of the roadway. Continue past the buildings and the launch area is about 150 yards west of the restrooms on the left shore of the causeway.
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PEACE RIVER BROWNVILLE PARK LAUNCH
Access to: the Peace River. This is a good starting point for a downriver paddle to Arcadia or a take-out point from Zolfo Springs.
Facilities: The ramp is concrete, wide, and with heavy fabric sidewalls. The Park has restrooms, picnic tables, trashcans, BBQ grills, a sandy/grassy parking area, and water. Be careful with the water; some faucets (with signs) dispense non-potable water.
Directions: Take Hwy.17 north out of Arcadia. Go about 7 miles on a divided four-lane highway to Brownville. Look for a small brown and white park sign on the right side of the road and a white sign for the Brownville Baptist Church on the left side. Turn left at a crossover and go about 1.5 miles on Brownville Street. On the left side of the road will be a free standing white modular building surrounded by a chain link fence and a large brown and white sign to the Brownville Park. Turn left into the park and follow the asphalt road to a “Y” intersection. Turn right and curve around to the ramp. The road goes through a tent and RV campground so please drive carefully.
PEACE RIVER DeSOTO PARK IN ARCADIA
Access to: The Peace River near Arcadia. This is a good take out point for a trip starting upriver, or a starting point for downstream travel. Refer to the Brownville and Nav-A-Gator ramps.
Facilities: There are no facilities. The ramp is concrete with a sandy area adjacent downstream; the adjacent parking area is mostly sand. . There is some asphalt parking nearby.
Directions: From the Venice, North Port, Port Charlotte area, take I-75 south to exit 170 and go north on Kings Hwy (CR 769) to Hwy. 72. Turn right (east) on Hwy. 72 and follow it to the “T” intersection of Hwy 70. Turn right and follow Hwy 70 east toward Arcadia, cross the first bridge over a somewhat dry river bed and turn left into DeSoto Park on American Legion Dr. The launch and parking will be straight ahead.
From the Sarasota area, take Clark Rd (Hwy 72) and follow it east to the “T” intersection with Hwy. 70. Turn right and follow Hwy 70 east toward Arcadia, cross the first bridge over a somewhat dry river bed and turn left into DeSoto Park on American Legion Dr.
From the Bradenton area, take Hwy 70 east to Arcadia. Cross the first bridge over a somewhat dry riverbed and turn left into DeSoto Park on American Legion Dr. In the Punta Gorda area head for I-75 exit 164 at Hwy 17 and follow 17 to Arcadia. Turn left (west) onto Hwy. 70 and follow it across the Peace River Bridge and turn right into DeSoto Park on American Legion Dr.
PEACE RIVER GARDNER PUBLIC BOAT LANDING
Access to: The Peace River west of Gardner.
Facilities: There are no facilities at the landing/launch site. Parking is sand/grass.
Directions: Go north on Hwy. 17 from Arcadia for 10.2 miles. Hwy. 17 is a four lane divided highway. A little south of Gardner Hwy 17 converts to a standard two-lane highway, so start looking for road signs. . Look for the green and white signs for the Peace River Public Boat Landing and turn left onto River Road. Go straight ahead for 1.5 miles on a dirt road that dead-ends at the ramp. If southbound on Hwy. 17 from Zolfo Springs, its 10.4 miles from the intersection of Hwys. 17 and 64 in Zolfo Springs to the turn off road. Upon entering the Gardner city limits, start looking right (west) for the boat landing signs and turn right onto River Road and follow the above directions. It’s not far from the Gardner city limits sign so be alert.
PEACE RIVER HARBOR HEIGHTS PARK EAST OF PORT CHARLOTTE
Access to: The Peace River and lower Shell Creek.
Facilities: The ramp is concrete; parking is asphalt with some sand/grass areas. There are full park facilities. Park vehicles near the tennis courts, which is free, and located about 100 yards from the boat ramp. Otherwise you will have to pay 75 cents an hour to park.
Directions: The Park is located at 27420 Voyageur Dr. in Harbor Heights. From I-75 in Port Charlotte, take Exit 167 and go east on CR 776/Harborview Rd. for 1.3 miles when the road divides. Bare left onto Broadpoint Dr. for 3/10th of a mile, and take a right turn onto Voyageur Dr. Tree limbs may obscure the sign for Harbour Heights Park. The Park is ½ mile at the end of Voyageur Dr. To get to the boat ramp, take a left onto Harbour Dr. just before entering the park. From Hwy. 41 in Port Charlotte, turn east on CR 776/Harborview Rd., cross I-75, and follow the above directions.
PEACE RIVER DEEP CREEK PARK (Nav-A-Gator) NE of PORT CHARLOTTE
Access to: The Peace River, Deep Creek, Hunter Creek, Jim Long Lake, Lettuce Lake and many acres of saltwater marsh.
Facilities: The Deep Creek Park ramp is County property. It offers restrooms, vehicle and trailer parking and picnic tables. Near the ramp is the Nav-A-Gator restaurant/bar. The ramp is concrete
Directions: If southbound on Hwy. 41 from Venice/North Port turn left (east) onto CR 776 and Kings Hwy. access. (This is Veterans Blvd. but is not marked as such from Hwy. 41). Continue until the roadway meets CR 769 toward Arcadia, go under I-75, and continue northward. Look right for a black and yellow sign to “Nav-A-Gator Desoto Marina” and a boat ramp sign, turn right on to Peace River Street to the ramp which is at the end of the street. If northbound out of Punta Gorda on Hwy. 41 turn right on to Kings Hwy. (CR 769) in Charlotte Harbor, go under I-75, and follow the above directions. If approaching from I-75, use exit 170 and go north on CR 769 to Peace River Street and turn right and go to the end of the street.
PEACE RIVER LETTUCE LAKE NE OF PORT CHARLOTTE
Directions: If southbound on I-75, take exit 170 and go northeast on CR 769 (also known as King’s Highway) toward Arcadia. Follow this road northeast for about 6.2 miles to the intersection with CR 761 and turn right (east) on CR761. The CR 761 intersection is just after the Water Treatment Plant with it’s white storage tanks. Cross over two Peace River bridges and turn right(south) at the first road, which is Lettuce Lake Avenue. It’s about 1.5 miles from the intersection of CR 769 and 761. Once on Lettuce Lake Avenue, follow the brown signs with white letters, turning right onto Reese Street to the ramp(about another 0.5 mile).
If northbound on I-75, take exit 170 and follow the above directions.
Facilities: There is a concrete ramp and adjacent to that is a large sandy/grassy launch area. Nearby are picnic tables and trashcans and a Porta-Potti. There is ample sand/grass parking.
Access to: There is no “Lettuce Lake” per se but rather an inlet off the Peace River. Accesses the Peace River but be aware that this area is a maze of mangrove islands and one can easily get lost so pay attention to what turns you make. It’s best to have an experienced guide who knows the area well, or be knowledgeable in the use of a GPS.
PEACE RIVER NOCATEE RAMP NE OF PORT CHARLOTTE
Access to: The Peace River.
Facilities: Facilities consist of two trashcans and no more. Parking is asphalt; there are two concrete boat ramps. There is a sandy launch or put in point adjacent to the downstream ramp.
Directions: If southbound on I-75 from the Venice area, take Exit 170 on to CR 769 East (Kings Highway) toward Arcadia. Go 11.2 miles on CR 769to the intersection of CR 760. Turn right on CR 760 and follow for 3.7 miles. You will come the bridge crossing the Peace River. The launch point and parking area is on the right side of the road just before crossing the Peace River. There is no “boat launch” sign or any park sign so be alert. If northbound on I-75 from the Ft. Myers area, take Exit 164 on to Hwy. 17 North toward Arcadia. Go 19 miles to the village of Nocatee turn left onto CR 760 and go 1 mile, cross the Peace River Bridge, and the ramp is on the left side of the road just after crossing the bridge. If coming from Sarasota area take HWY 72at I-75 head east for 32 miles to CR769. Turn right on CR 769 and head south for 2.3 miles to CR 760. Turn left on CR 760 for 3.7 miles to the Peace River Bridge and launch site on your right.
***************************************END PEACE RIVER***************************************
PHILLIPPI CREEK PHILLIPPI ESTATES PARK SOUTH SARASOTA
Access to: Eastward up Phillippi Creek, westward to the ICW then north into Roberts Bay, an Audubon Society’s rookery, and the whole Sarasota Bay area the Siesta Key canal system and the South Lido Beaches; southward in the ICW leads into Little Sarasota Bay, the Stickney Point area.
Facilities: The parking areas are asphalt, restrooms are close by; the gazebos have picnic tables.
Directions: If northbound on Hwy. 41 from the Venice area go past Economy Tackle and a gas station on the left (west) side of the road. At the traffic light on Constitution St., turn left (west) into Phillippi Estates Park. The Park is well marked with signage. If southbound in South Sarasota on Hwy. 41 cross the three bridges over Phillippi Creek and turn right (west) at the Constitution St. traffic light into Phillippi Estates Park. Upon entering the Park, follow the road to the right then left and go straight ahead past the Park’s Administration buildings toward the gazebos. Park near the gazebos; kayaks must be carried 140+ yards over a concrete walkway to a narrow sandy/shelly launch point adjacent to a fishing pier. The pier is clearly visible from the parking area. For analternate launch point, enter the Park, turn right and continue straight ahead for a short distance, then turn right and park between the mansion and Hwy. 41. It’s a shorter and easy 75-yard carry over grass to a narrow shelly launch point.
PHILLIPPI CREEK PINECRAFT PARK IN SOUTH SARASOTA
Access to: The upper part of Phillippi Creek just south of Bahia Vista Street.
Facilities: Pinecraft Park has full facilities. Parking is ample and is asphalt. The ramp is one-half asphalt and one-half sand/shell, and is narrow and 35 yards long. There is a small dirt/grass staging area between the ramp and a wooden fence. The launch point is sand/shell/mud. This is at the more northerly end of Phillippi Creek and the water level at times can be shallow. Check out the water level before scheduling a group trip from here.
Directions: If you are southbound on I-75, take Exit 210 and go west on Fruitville Rd. (also marked SR 780). Go west to the traffic light at Beneva Rd. and turn left. Go south to Bahia Vista St. and turn right. Go west and after going through the traffic light at Kaufman Ave., slow down, get in the left hand lane, and the fourth street left is Gilbert Ave. There is a small wooden sign pointing to “Pinecraft Park” to the right of the intersection. The streets here are not very far apart, so be watchful. Turn left on Gilbert Ave. and follow it down to the fence and turn right into the Park.
If northbound on I-75 from south of Sarasota, take Exit 207 onto Bee Ridge Rd. west (also marked SR 758) and go to the traffic light at Beneva Rd. Turn right on Beneva Rd to Bahia Vista St., turn left on Bahia Vista St. and follow the above directions.
From Hwy. 41 in mid-Sarasota, go east on Bahia Vista St. watch for the first bridge which will be over Phillippi Creek, and look carefully right for the fourth street right which is Gilbert Ave. There is a small blue and white sign pointing to Pinecraft Park. The streets are close together so be careful. Turn right onto Gilbert Ave and follow it down to the Park.
PINE ISLAND AND MATLACHA PASS AQUATIC PRESERVE INLEE COUNTY
SIRENA VISTA PARK NORTHEAST CAPE CORAL
Access to: East side of Matlacha Pass, Buzzard Bay, Big Dead Creek and Ben Coleman Key. Many mangrove tunnels and islands.
Facilities: This is a new “under development” Lee County paddle craft launch site. The launch area is sand. The large parking area is sand/grass with plenty of room for trailers. There is a porta-poty at the launch area.
Directions: Going south on I-75 take Exit 161at Punta Gorda and go west on Jones Loop Road to Hwy 41. Cross Hwy. 41 and it turns into Burnt Store Road. Follow Burnt Store Rd. south for 17 ½ miles. Just before you reach Pine Island Road (CR78) you ill see a green road sign announcing Ceitus Pky. Turn right onto Ceitus PKY and follow it west for 1 mile to SW 38th Place and turn left. Go south for 1 block, than turn right onto SW 4th Lane. Continue west for one block and the paved road will end and a shell road enters the park. Follow it to the T intersection and turn right. At that point you are at the launch site. This launch site is 20 miles from the I-75 161 exit. From Hwy. 41 southbound from Punta Gorda, go to the traffic light with Burnt Store Road, turn right (west), and follow the above directions.
MATLACHA COMMUNITY PARK - MATLACHA
Access to: Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. The Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve is the water separating the Florida mainland from Matlacha, Little Pine Island and Pine Island. The Preserve is about 17 nautical miles long.
Facilities: The launch point is sand; parking is asphalt. There are trashcans, water, and restrooms. The park is a Lee County Parks Department facility.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 161 and go west on Jones Loop Rd. to Hwy. 41. Cross Hwy. 41; Jones Loop Rd. turns into Burnt Store Rd. (CR 765.) Follow Burnt Store Rd. south to Pine Island Rd. (SR 78), which is about 18 miles. Turn right onto Pine Island Rd. and follow west toward Matlacha. In Matlacha, cross over a long drawbridge, then a shorter bridge, and then watch for the “brown” county sign showing a boat launch. Turn left onto the first street past the second bridge and drive into Matlacha Community Park. Follow the one direction road in the park, go past the concrete boat launch point and continue to a wide path going to a long “T” fishing pier. The kayak launch point is just past the fishing pier. Note the trailer and non-trailer parking areas. From Hwy. 41 southbound from Punta Gorda go to the traffic light with Burnt Store Rd, turn right (west), and follow the above directions.
TROPICAL POINT LAUNCH-PINE ISLAND
Access: West side of Matlacha Pass, Manatee Bay, Rock Hole and St. James Creek to the south. Pine Island Creek to the north and Matlacha Pass to the east.
Facilities: This launch site is sand, has a small parking area and a porta-potty.
Directions: Take exit 143 off I-74 which is Hwy 78, and head west on Bayshore road, continue west crossing Hwy 41 and the name changes to Pine Island Road. Follow Pine Island Road through Matlacha to Pine Island and turn left onto Stringfellow Road. Follow that south for 5 miles to Tropical Point Drive, turn left and follow to the end at the waters edge where you will find a Lee County paddle-craft launch site.
JUG CREEK COTTAGES/CAYO COSTA LAND BASE BOKEELIA-PINE ISLAND
Access to: Jug Creek and Jug Creek Pass west into Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve, Little Bokellia Bay Big Jim Creek Preserve, Kreie Preserve. Shell Pass north into Charlotte Harbor and Jug Creek Pass east into Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve.
Facilities: The launch area is concrete, parking is sand-grass.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 161 in Punta Gorda and go west on Jones Loop Rd. to Hwy. 41. Cross Hwy. 41; Jones Loop Rd. converts to Burnt Store Rd. (also marked as CR 765.) Follow Burnt Store Rd. south to Pine Island Rd. and follow it west through Matlacha and continue to a 4-way stop sign at Pine Island Rd. and Stringfellow Rd. on Pine Island. Turn right and follow Stringfellow Rd. for 7 MILES WHERE Stringfellow turns left and the name changes to Main St in Bokeelia. About 300 yards down Main Street on your left will be the turn in for Jug Creek Cottages/Cayo Costa Land Base. Stop at the back of the first cottage/office and pay a $5.00 dollar launch fee per vehicle regardless of number of kayaks. The launch is at the end of this shell road.
PINELAND MONUMENT PARK IN PINELAND PINE ISLAND
Access to: The waters and Islands of the Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve including Part Island, Useppa Island, Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa State Park which is only accessible by boat or paddle craft.
Facilities: The launch site is a sand/mud area on a tidal flat. It can be muddy so plan accordingly. Parking is sand, small, and can accommodate about 8 to 10 vehicles. There are no facilities at the launch site.
Directions: From I-75, take Exit 161 on to North Jones Loop Road in Punta Gorda and go west on Jones Loop Rd. for 1.2 miles and cross Hwy. 41. After crossing Hwy. 41, the road becomes Burnt Store Rd. Continue as the road turns south along Burnt Store Rd. to the traffic light with Pine Island Rd. Turn right (west) on Pine Island Rd., go through Matlacha and continue to a 4-way stop sign at the intersection of Pine Island Rd. and Stringfellow Rd. on Pine Island. Turn right and follow Stringfellow north for 3.3 miles to the intersection of Stringfellow and Pineland Rd. Turn left and follow the winding road to the water where the road turns right. Continue until you see the paddle craft launch site on your left. It is called Monument Park because there is a monument on a large stone by the launch point.
END PINE ISLAND AND MATLACHA PASS AQUATIC PRESERVE IN LEE COUNTY
PLACIDA PUBLIC BOAT RAMP
Access to: The ICW, Placida Harbor, Gasparilla Sound, Little Gasparilla Island Beach, Gasparilla Island (Boca Grande) and Coral Creek and the Woolverton Kayak Trail.
Facilities: There are two concrete ramps, park benches, and porta potties. The parking area is asphalt and the majority of the parking sites are for vehicles with trailers. If with a group, plan to park one vehicle behind the other in a parking slot. There is a 75-cent per hour parking fee. This ramp can be very crowded on weekends, especially in the wintertime. It’s always best to get there early in the day. DO NOT park on the grass for you may get a ticket.
Directions: From Venice, go south on SR 776 to Englewood and go south on SR 775 toward Placida. Go about nine miles and turn right into the ramp parking lot just before reaching the traffic light for the Gasparilla Island/Boca Grande Causeway. From SR 771 in the El Jobean/East Rotonda area, turn left onto the Gasparilla Island Causeway and turn right into the parking lot. Do not go through the tollgate for the Causeway.
PONCE DE LEON PARK-PUNTA GORDA
Access to: Charlotte Harbor, the mouths of the Peace and Myakka Rivers, local canals and mangrove islands.
Facilities: The Park has full facilities. The ramp is concrete on the south side of the park. However, if you drive straight ahead to the sea wall there is a sand beach on the right. Park here, go down stairs through the sea wall, and there is a sandy beach from which to launch kayaks. Be careful for there are some rocks along the shoreline and submerged off shore. Parking is asphalt. Nearby is a wildlife rehabilitation center. This is a Punta Gorda city park so there are no fees.
Directions: If southbound on Hwy. 41 from the North Port area cross the Peace River Bridge. Shortly after crossing the bridge, turn right at a traffic light onto West Marion Ave. and follow it west, it then curves southwest then south directly into the Park. If northbound on Hwy. 41 in South Punta Gorda, continue northward to the traffic light at West Marion Ave., turn left and follow the above directions. If approaching from I-75, take Exit 164 and go west toward Punta Gorda on Hwy. 17. Follow SR 17 westward, which becomes West Marion Ave., and continue to the Park.
PORT CHARLOTTE BEACH COMPLEX
Access to: Charlotte Harbor, Alligator Bay, Lewes Creek, Muddy Bay, Myakka Cutoff, Hog Island and the mouths of the Myakka and Peace Rivers
Facilities: The Complex has full park facilities plus a swimming pool with lifeguard, pavilion, beach walkway, and concession stand. The boat ramp is concrete but there is plenty of sandy beach near the concession building from which to launch kayaks. There is a Charlotte County 75-cent per hour parking fee payable at automated machines.
Directions: From the north using I-75 take exit 140 (North River Road) and follow it to Hwy 41. Turn left onto Hwy 41 towards North Port. Follow 41 through North Port, into Port Charlotte to Harbor Blvd. At Harbor Blvd turn right and follow it right into the Park at the roads end. If northbound on I-75 take exit 164 at Punta Gorda and follow HY 17 west into Punta Gorda to Hwy 41. Turn right onto Hwy 41 and cross the bridge. Follow Hwy 41 to Edgewater Dr and turn left. Follow Edgewater Dr west to Harbor Blvd and turn left. Follow Harbor Blvd to the end into the Park.
PRAIRIE CREEK NORTH OF HATHAWAY PARK EAST OF PUNTA GORDA
Access to: Upstream is Prairie Creek; downstream will go to a dam near the confluence of Prairie and Shell Creeks, then paddlers can go upstream on Shell Creek to Hathaway Park. Some paddlers relocate vehicles from Prairie Creek to Hathaway Park for a one-way trip.
Facilities: There are no facilities at Prairie Creek. Full park facilities are available nearby at Hathaway Park. The ramp is concrete. The creek bed drops off quickly from the ramp and is deep.
Directions: From I-75 in Punta Gorda, take Exit 164 and go northeast on Hwy. 17 toward Arcadia. Go about 4.5 miles and look right for the Royal Thai Restaurant. Now, if you need restroom facilities, go just beyond a large yellowish “Shell Creek Park” billboard and turn right onto Washington Loop Rd (CR 764). Go about 5 miles to the entrance to Hathaway Park. Upon leaving Hathaway Park, turn left and the road will curve left and cross over Shell Creek, then turn left. About one-fourth of a mile after the last curve, on the straight of way, you will see a green and white highway sign “Prairie Creek” on the first bridge. Parking is on a sandy/grassy area on the right (north) side of the road before crossing the bridge, and will accommodate about 10 vehicles along a fence line. Parking is also available along the shoulder of the road for another 8 to 10 vehicles.
RIVERSIDE RAMP NORTHEAST OF PUNTA GORDA
Access to: Lower Shell Creek and Myrtle Creek
Facilities: There is a concrete ramp with a sandy area on both sides. Parking is shell/sand. There are no facilities and thus no Charlotte County parking fees. The parking area is relatively small but can accommodate 20 vehicles with careful parking.
Directions: From I-75 in Punta Gorda, take Exit 164 and go northeast on Hwy.17 toward Arcadia. Go about 4.5miles around the curve heading north and get in the left hand turn lane. To the left front will be the Tower Garden Lagoon Bait Shop and a large tiki-type pavilion. Turn left onto Riverside Drive, cross a short bridge and on the right will be the Lazy Lagoon Mobile Park. Shortly thereafter will be a sign on the right to the Riverside Launch; turn right onto a sand/shell road and the ramp is a short distance in.
ROOKERY BAY NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESARCH RESERVE NAPLES
Access to: Rookery Bay, Stopper Creek, Henderson Creek and Shell Point Canoe Trail.
Facilities: Shell Island Road (2.7 miles long) is paved going through the Research Reserve with 15 to 25 mile per hour speed limits. The launch area is sand/shell; parking is grass and shell. Shortly after the first 15 mph speed sign is a Ranger Station by a “Boardwalk sign”. There is a large porta-potty located in the parking lot. No facilities at the launch site.
Directions: Going south on I-75 take Exit 101, go south on CR 951 (Collier Blvd) for 6.8 miles to the HWY 41 intersection. Cross HWY 41 and continue south for 2.8 miles “past” Tower Rd and the sign for the Rookery Bay Environmental Center”, cross the bridge over Henderson Creek and continue south to Shell Island Road and the brown sign showing Binoculars and paddle craft launch. Turn right and follow Shell Island Road to the end.
SOUTH GULF COVE PARK-SOUTH GOULF COVE
Access: South Gulf Cove canal system and waterway
Facilities: The Park has full facilities. The ramp is concrete and parking is asphalt. This is a Charlotte County Park boat launch site and has an iron ranger collecting $0.75 per hour. Bring coins or dollar bills.
Directions: From Venice-Englewood area take Hwy 776 south then east (on Hwy 776 S McCall Rd) to the intersection of 776/771. Turn right onto 771 (Gasparilla Rd) and follow it south for 4 miles to the intersection of 771 and Appleton Blvd. Turn left onto Appleton Blvd and immediately turn left again onto Winborough Dr. Follow Winborough Dr for 440 yards and turn right onto Oldsmar Circle, one block than left onto Amicola St and into the park. If your are coming south on I-75 take exit #179, N. Toledo Blade Blvd and head south. Cross Hwy 41 and continue to 776 El JoBean Rd. Turn right and follow it to the 776/771 intersections and turn left onto 771. Then follow the above directions.
SOUTH LIDO PARK AND BEACH-LIDO KEY
Access to: The South Lido Park Nature Center and mangrove tunnel trail head which is about a 15 to 20 minute paddle north from South Lido Park; access Big Pass and the Gulf, St. Armand’s Key, Bird Key, Bay Island, Roberts Bay and the Audubon Society’s mangrove island bird sanctuary, and the Sarasota waterfront
Facilities: Sandy parking area, sandy non-motorized watercraft launching area east of the parking area into the ICW, restrooms, picnic tables and trash cans, soda vending machines, outdoor showers, and waterside benches. To the west is a swimming area in the Gulf. This is a relatively large area and can accommodate a large group.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in “downtown” Sarasota go west on SR 789 toward Lido Key and St. Armand’s. Continue west to St. Armand’s Circle, go one-half way around the circle, then follow the signs to Lido Beach, then curve south on Ben Franklin Dr. Continue south on Ben Franklin Blvd. until it ends in the parking area of South Lido Park and Beach.
SOUTH LIDO PARK NATURE CENTER MANGROVE TUNNEL AREA-LIDO KEY
Access to: A marked trail through manmade mangrove tunnels in the park. This also gives excellent access to Big Pass and the Gulf, St. Armand’s Key, Bird Key, Bay Island, South Lido Park, Roberts Bay and the Audubon Society’s mangrove island bird sanctuary, and the Sarasota waterfront.
Facilities: The parking area is asphalt; has restrooms, picnic tables and trashcans, and a nature trail walk. The kayak launch point is a 40-yard carry to a sandy area on the ICW. Look for the canoe/kayak trail map board, which shows the layout of the adjacent mangrove tunnel paddling area.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in “downtown” Sarasota go west on SR 789 toward Lido Key and St. Armand’s. Continue west to St. Armand’s Circle, go one-half way around the circle, then follow the signs to Lido Beach, then curve south on Ben Franklin Dr. Continue south and go for a mile or so. Keep an eye to the right for the Limetree Beach Resort. Just beyond the resort, on the left, you will see a turquoise and white South Lido Park Nature Center sign and the entrance to Taft Dr. Turn left (east) on Taft Dr, drive through the Park entrance gate into the parking area. The launch point is south of the parking area.
STUMP PASS STATE PARK-MANASOTA KEY
Access to: The ICW, Stump Pass, and several mangrove islands in the area.
Facilities: The Park has full park facilities. The Park’s west side is on the Gulf and the east side on the ICW. The sandy launch site is north of the raised restroom building on the east (ICW side) of the park. Parking is on sand. There is a daily parking fee of $2.00 payable at an “Iron Ranger” so make sure you have the right change. The Park is relatively small; parking space is limited.
Directions: From SR 776 in South Englewood, go southwest on Beach Road. At the intersection of SR 776 and Beach Rd. there is a McDonald’s Restaurant and a Coldwell Banker Real Estate sign that make good landmarks. Continue west on Beach Rd., cross the ICW, and turn left on Gulf Blvd. and follow it until it ends in the State Park.
SUNRISE PARK PORT CHARLOTTE PADDLE CRAFT LAUNCH SITE
Access: Sunrise waterway, West Spring Lake, Manchester waterway, Alligator Bay and the north end of Charlotte Harbor
Facilities: Sunrise Park is comprised of 40 acres of open space with active and passive amenities. It is contiguous to the Sunrise Waterway and adjacent to 114 acres of a State buffer that is part of the Charlotte Harbor State Reserve. PARK AMENITIES include Tennis Courts, Fishing Pier, Walking Trail, Canoe/Kayak Launch, and Restrooms. The launch area is sand; parking in launch area is shell. Parking in the Tennis Court/restroom area is blacktop. There is NO launch or parking fee at this park.
Directions: From the Venice area take Hwy 41 south through North Port and into Port Charlotte. Get into the right hand lane and turn right onto Port Charlotte Blvd. Follow Port Charlotte Blvd south for 1 mile to the stop sign at Edgewater Dr. Turn right onto Edgewater Dr and follow it for 0.3 of a mile to the (4) intersection on your right. This is S. Waterway Dr NW. Turn left into Sunrise Park. (Note South Waterway drive is horseshoe shaped so you will see two intersections with the same name. You want the second one coming from east to west.) From Sarasota take I 75 south to Exit 191 – North River Road and follow it to Hwy 41. Turn left onto 41 and follow the above directions.
TELEGRAPH CREEK off the Caloosahatchee River
W.P. FRANKLIN LOCK South Recreation Area
Access to: The Caloosatchee River (Okeechobee Waterway and Telegraph Creek.
Facilities: Located on the south side of the Caloosahatchee River section of the Okeechobee Waterway, W.P. Franklin Lock Recreation Area has full facilities including camping, swimming, fishing, picnic areas, boat launch Visitors can view manatees, abundant bird life, and watch boats locking.
Directions: From the Venice area take I-75 south to exit 141 State Road 80 (Palm Beach Blvd). Turn left onto State Road 80 east for about 7½ miles. Look for and follow the brown WP Franklin Lock sign on Hwy 80 for the left turn onto Old Olga Rd then follow the brown signs leading you into the Franklin Lock Recreation Area. Drive straight ahead into the “Observation Area” parking. Do not turn left into the “Beach or Boat ramp” area. Carry you kayak down the west side of the Observation walk to the water. This is facing west, downstream towards Telegraph Creek.
TERRA CEIA BAY-RATTLESNAKE KEY TAMPA BAY SOUTH
Access: Terra Celia Bay, Flounder Pass, Critical Bay Miguel Bay Little Miguel Pass, Rattlesnake Key and Terra Ceia Point.
Facilities: The ramp is sand; parking is sand and grass. There are no facilities at the launch site.
Directions: Take I-75 north to EXIT 224 (us 301 going west. Follow 301 west to Hwy 41 intersection. Turn right onto Hwy 41 and follow to junction of US 19 veering left. Follow US 19 until you go over a bridge than look for a BP station on the left ahead. Make a U-Turn there and park on the grassy area on the right just before (north of) the bridge you just crossed.
TIPPECANOE ENVINIRNMENTAL PARK
Access to: Flamingo Waterway, with short portage: Flopbuck Creek, San Knight Creek and waters in the area.
Facilities: The launch point is grass and there are no facilities.
Directions: From Venice take Hwy 41 south through North Port and turn right onto Toledo Blade Blvd. From the Sarasota take I-75 south to exit 179 Toledo Blade Blvd. Follow Toledo Blade Blvd to Hwy 776 (El Jobean Rd) and turn right. Follow Hwy 776 west getting in the left hand lane. You will see a green sign for Flamingo Blvd. Drive to the next left turn, which will be Tea St. Turn left onto Tea Street and follow it to the end. From the Englewood area take Hwy 776 east past El Jobean and the Charlotte Sports Park. Once past the Sports Park look for Tea Street and turn right, follow it to the end where you will enter Tippecanoe Environmental Park. Continue to the launch area and unload, than park in the parking area or along the road.
THOMPSON PARK-LIDO KEY
Access to: The New Pass area, northward along the ICW and the built up southern area of Longboat Key; southward to St. Armand’s, Bird Key, the Ringling Blvd Causeway, and Sarasota Bay.
Facilities: There are three concrete launching ramps and a restroom. The parking area is large; some is paved but most is sandy. Further to the east are covered picnic tables and trashcans along the east and north side of the Key and within walking distance of the ramp. The ramp goes into an area near the ICW.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in “downtown” Sarasota go west on SR 789 to St. Armand’s on Lido Key. At the traffic circle in St. Armand’s, stay to the right and take SR 789 north and follow the signs to the Mote Marine Science Center. Ken Thompson Park is just east of Mote; the ramps are on the right (south) side of the road. (However, for a sand/shell launch area, do not turn south into the ramp area but rather drive straight ahead and there will be an asphalt parking area, restrooms, a children’s playground, and a shell/sand beach launch area.)
TURTLE BEACH PARK SIESTA KEY
Access to: The Jim Neville Marine Preserve (a good bird nesting area), the old filled in Midnight Pass area that is now a county park (and at times an excellent shelling beach on the Gulf), and the ICW between Blackburn Point Rd. and Stickney Point Rd. You can also access North Creek but it is hard to find from this direction. The launch site is due west across the ICW from the Vamo Boat Launch.
Facilities: Restrooms are located at the intersection of Midnight Pass Rd. and the entrance into the park. The parking area is sand; there are no facilities in the parking area. The launch area is sandy and is located in a protected inlet. It is about a 5-minute paddle to get to the ICW. The parking lot is lighted at night, so this makes a good launching and landing point for evening paddles. Kayakers can see to load and tie down their kayaks during hours of darkness.
Directions: From Hwy. 41 in South Sarasota go west on Stickney Point Rd. (SR 72 West), cross the ICW to Midnight Pass Rd. (SR 789), then turn left (south) for 2.5 miles to Turtle Beach. At Turtle Beach road sigh, turn right (west) and left (south) the left (east) into the parking area. To the east is an inlet leading to the ICW, to the west is a large sand dune on the Gulf.
VAMO PARK LAUNCH POINT-SOUTH SARASOTA
Note: Vamo Park now closes at Sunset. No access after dark!
Access to: Vamo is due east across the ICW from Turtle Beach Park on Little Sarasota Bay, thus access is the same as for Turtle Beach Park. However, Vamo does give closer and better-marked access to North Creek.
Facilities: There are no facilities at Vamo. There is a relatively small sandy parking area between fences in a residential area. The launch site is a shallow sandy area on the ICW.
Directions: If southeast bound on Hwy. 41 in South Sarasota turn right (south) onto Vamo Way at the traffic light at the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall. Continue south and look to the right for two off-white stucco columns and turn right (west) onto Vamo Drive into Vamo County Park. If northbound from Venice on Hwy. 41 go just north of McIntosh and North Point Roads (the entrance to Palmer Ranch is on the right and the Oaks Preserve is on the left) and get in the left hand lane. Turn left and cross over southbound Hwy. 41 (there is no traffic light here) onto Vamo Way. Just as the road turns right (north), look left for the stucco columns then go left onto Vamo Drive into the Park.