For some, vacation means lying on the beach. For others, it means family-friendly activities and outdoor fun. A family hike at Oscar Scherer State Park by Siesta Key is bound to be a hit for adults and kids who love the great outdoors. It is unquestionably one of the most wonderful things to do for families looking for a wildlife adventure on a Siesta Key vacation.
About Oscar Scherer State Park
Oscar Scherer State Park is located about 20 minutes from central Siesta Key and features a variety of habitats including Scrubby and Pine Flatwoods, Hardwood Hammocks, and other Florida foliage.
One of the park’s main attractions is its bird population. From the endangered Florida Scrub Jay, to vultures, to limpkin, this is one of the best places in the area to see wildlife in its natural habitat.
Other species to keep an eye out for include the bobcat, gopher tortoise, and the Cassius Blue, a brown patterned butterfly. Southwest Florida is known for its birds, and this state park has plenty of them.
The park also has a beach for swimming, and a tidal black water stream, South Creek, for canoeing and kayaking. Camping, cycling, picnicking, and fishing are among the other activities.
For educational activities, visit the park’s Interpretive Nature Center, which provides a family-friendly educational experience of the park’s ecosystem and species. The exhibit includes dioramas, videos, displays, and a touch table. Typically, the center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but it’s a good idea to call the Ranger Station at (941) 483-5956 to double check the hours.
Hiking & Nature Trails
Oscar Scherer has 15 miles of easy-to-moderate marked hiking trails with benches for resting along the way. Trail maps can be picked up at the Nature Center or printed off the park’s website.
The Yellow Trail is five miles long, and takes about 2.5 hours. The trail is one of the longer ones at the park, but it is the main “throughway for hikers. It’s relatively easy- a flat and level path welcoming for families. This trail winds through pine famous Florida Hardwood Hammocks and Scrubby Flatwoods. For families with younger children, there are few shortcuts that reduce the hike to about half its main length, to about 2.5 or 3.5 miles.
The Blue Trail is much shorter in comparison. At 1.5 miles, it passes through a Florida Scrub Jay habitat of pine and scrubby flatwoods. The trail is sandy and lacks tree canopy cover, so it can become quite hot.
In the northwestern part of the park lies the Red Trail, a 2.5- to 3-mile-long path that shares a trailhead with the Blue Trail.
Beginning at the Nature Center, the Green Trail is a 2- or 3-mile hike that, due to internal service roads, allows you to take branching paths or take the path from different points.
This a fun, family-friendly trail, as it passes through various forest types, a Scrub Jay habitat, and over a bridge across South Creek. This is also the best biking trail in the park.
Part of the park’s South Trail System, the Lester Finley Trail runs along South Creek toward Little Sarasota Bay. This half-mile trail is short and wheelchair accessible, and includes extensive tree canopy along the path, as well as a fishing pier, two butterfly gardens, a number of benches and picnic tables, and a water fountain. This is a great trail for families with young children looking to introduce them to the great outdoors.
South Creek Nature Trail, another short, half-mile trail, is also perfect for families with young children. It begins at the picnic area across from the Nature Center, and follows South Creek to the campground. Markers along the way discuss the natural habitat, and a full canopy provides relief from the warm Florida sun.
For walking, running, and cycling, the 12-mile Legacy Honore Trail is paved.
What to Bring
Don’t forget to wear hiking boots or shoes, a hat, and layers to protect from the sun. Bug repellent and sunscreen is also a must. Bring more water than you think you’ll need, as the Florida sun is notorious for its intensity. Thankfully, you will be shaded by the forestry in many parts of the hiking trails.
Location, & Hours
The park is located at 1843 South Tamiami Trail, Osprey, FL, and is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset. One of the less expensive island things to do, park admission fees range between $4 and $5 per vehicle (depending on occupancy). Pedestrians, cyclists, and extra passengers are $2 per person.
Start Your Trip & Book Accommodations Here
We have an amazing Siesta Key resort hotel waiting for you so that you can explore Oscar Scherer State Park and the other incredible natural attractions on and near our island. Call us at 941-349-1125 for more information.