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Full Preserve Loop

Easy/Intermediate
 4.0 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Hike the largest natural area in Pinellas County.


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Map Key

4.3

Miles

6.9

KM

Loop

29' 9 m

High

19' 6 m

Low

24' 7 m

Up

23' 7 m

Down

0%

Avg Grade (0°)

1%

Max Grade (1°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Wildlife

Family Friendly Easy hiking and lots of wildlife opportunities.

Closed Christmas Day and the day after Thanksgiving.

Overview

This is a 4.3-mile loop hike through a remote area of Pinellas County. The environments change throughout the hike as it heads through swamps, pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, and forest wetlands.

Need to Know

Sections of Blackwater Cutoff Trail and the Wilderness Trail can be flooded during rainy season.

Description

Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in Florida so having a 4.3-mile loop trail in a wilderness area is quite a treasure. The trail starts at the parking lot and takes you on a boardwalk where you can swing by the visitor center. There is also a gift shop run by volunteers to help support the preserve. The only restrooms are nearby as well.

Along the Ed Center Trail, you'll see a lot of wildlife as the boardwalk elevates you over Brooker Creek. Woodpeckers, armadillos, and a few reptiles are a few examples. The trail has signs in front of various trees letting you know their names like the live oak and dogwood trees.

After the boardwalk, you'll leave the swamp behind and look for the orange-blazed Wilderness Trail to your right. Here will be some pinewood flats and then forest wetlands with rabbits and deer that are common in this area. Stay on this orange-marked trail for two miles as you move through a cypress swamp area. The trail continues but the markings changes color to indicate the Pine Needle Path, a short 0.4-mile pink-marked trail with lots of pine trees, and then the color will change again to purple as you are now on Blackwater Cutoff Trail.

This is a very swampy area but still with a good dirt trail tread, at least in the dry season. Soon though, the environment will change as you hit the Flatwoods Trail, a green-marked trail, and my favorite section as the pine flatwoods make for wide open spaces of the hike where there is good bird viewing. Finally, you'll connect to another section of the Ed Center Trail and more opportunities for swamp viewing on the boardwalk before ending back at the parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

Fauna: Bald eagle, deer, armadillo, rabbits, woodpeckers, gopher tortoise, red cardinals, spiders, frogs, turkey, dragonflies, owls
Flora: oak, palmetto, dogwood, ferns, cyprus, slash pine

Contacts

Shared By:

Kevin Roberts

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#3269

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#23

in Florida

#3,269

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923 Since Apr 4, 2018
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Photos

Flatwoods trail
Apr 5, 2018 near East Lake, FL
Its named pine needles path for a reason
Apr 6, 2018 near East Lake, FL
Entering Black Water Cutoff
Apr 6, 2018 near East Lake, FL
woodpecker Ed Center Trail
Apr 4, 2018 near East Lake, FL
Brooker Creek
Apr 4, 2018 near East Lake, FL
juvenille white ibis
Apr 5, 2018 near East Lake, FL

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Check-Ins

Mar 16, 2019
Hannah Camisasca-Lopina
13h 44m
Oct 13, 2018
John Casey
Trails still under water and impassable at parts. Would wait a month or two so they can dry out. They warn you at the start though. 2.7mi