My camera needed an adventure, and after being home for more than two months, it was time to get out and explore.
Mid-August, at the peak of Florida’s rainy season, I headed up north to Sarasota to scout out the Myakka River State Park. Goggle Earth and All Trails helped to plan the trip and I had my car loaded with lots of drinking water, heavy-duty insect repellent, rubber boats, flashlight, plenty of spare batteries, etc., etc. – a woman on a mission.
Babcock Ranch, just north of Fort Myers, was my first stop, and it gave a good indication of what was ahead: floods and mosquitos. But also the immense beauty of the flat Florida landscape.
Entering the park about 10 miles east of Sarasota, you are immediately surrounded by a different world - pine forest, scrub, and prairies, but also marshes and cypress domes. You are truly in a different world.
With 37,000 acres Myakka River State Park is one of the largest parks in Florida and named after the Myakka river that runs through it. The Myakka River is a major source of fresh water to Charlotte Harbor and also provides nursery habitat for many commercial and recreational fish and shellfish.
The Myakka river and lakes are sizeable water bodies honoring its name which means “Big Water”, but it is the soil that makes Myakka famous. Myakka fine sand, a wet sandy flatwoods soil with an organic subsoil layer, is Florida’s state soil and is unique to Florida.
The park did not disappoint, and being in the midst of heat and rainy season, I had it all to myself. Most of the area was flooded, many of the hiking trails not passable, even with rubber boots on. To my disappointment, I could not access the Canopy Walk, an elevated viewing area - the standing water was too deep to reach it. The other area not accessible was the Deep Hole, a famous hangout for large alligators - reason to come back another time.