Myakka River State Park was one of the first state parks in Florida I intentionally set a goal to visit. Why you might ask? The Canopy Walkway and Tower! The Canopy Walkway at Myakka River State Park is one of the parks most unique attractions. The walkway is suspended 25 feet in the air and extends approximately 100 feet across.
How can I get to the Canopy Walkway and Tower?
The Canopy Walkway and Tower can be accessed via the William S. Boylston Nature Trail which is a 0.9-mile loop. There is one way traffic across the walkway to a 74-foot observation tower you can climb up to get an incredible 360 view of the park above the trees. There is a parking lot very close to the trail head which is clearly labeled for The Canopy Walkway.
*Good news, the Canopy Walkway has reopened after damage from Hurricane Ian in 2022!**
Myakka River State Park – The Basics
Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s largest and oldest state parks, the formal dedication occurred in 1941 with official opening to the public. The park expands 58 square miles and includes 12-miles of the Myakka River and 39-miles of hiking trails.
- Hours: 8 AM until sunset, 365 days a year
- Fees: $6 per vehicle
- Activities: Hiking, biking, camping, boat tours, kayaking/canoeing, fishing, and more
- Additional fees may apply for some activities/rentals
- Pet friendly: Some restrictions apply
- Pets must be kept on a 6-foot leash, pets are not allowed in buildings or on the Canopy Walkway
Getting there: The park is just over a hour drive from Tampa making it an easy day trip for anyone in the Tampa Bay area.
- Myakka River State Park is located in Sarasota, Florida
- Address: 13208 State Road 72 Sarasota, Florida 34241
- Approximate driving distance from popular destinations
- St. Petersburg: 50 minutes
- Tampa: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Fort Myers: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Naples: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Orlando: 2 hours 15 minutes
What else can I do besides the Canopy Walkway?
Another area we were sure we wanted to check out was The Birdwalk. The Birdwalk is located further north in the park next to Upper Myakka Lake. This is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing particularly in the winter. I’d recommend to bring binoculars and take in the view.
Upper and Lower Myakka Lakes
There are two lakes in addition to the Myakka River which runs through the park. There is no swimming at Myakka River State Park due to the high number of alligators in the park. Although you cannot swim, kayaking, canoeing, and boat tours are available within the park. Kayak and Canoe rentals are available from Myakka Outpost as well as bicycles. Myakka Outpost opens at 9:30 AM on a first come, first serve basis for all rentals.
Boat and Tram Tours
Boat and tram tours are provided by the park daily for an additional fee. Either of the tours will last approximately 45 to 60 minutes and are an excellent way to see more wildlife and learn more about the park. The fees for boat and tram tours are listed below with a discounted rate offered for both tours in parenthesis.
- Adults: $20; ($32)
- Child (3 to 12 years): $12; ($19)
- Age 2 years and under: Free
You will have the chance to view wildlife all throughout the park. On our visit we saw a variety of birds and several alligators. We first spotted an alligator in the distance from the Birdwalk, but we were able to see more alligators up close from the road as we were leaving the park. However, the best spot in the park to see alligators is at Deep Hole.
Unfortunately, we did not get to experience Deep Hole on our initial visit to the park, but it is definitely on my bucket list. Deep Hole is a 131-foot deep sinkhole located at Lower Myakka Lake. In order to hike to Deep Hole you must secure a hiking permit from the ranger station.
My best advice, COME EARLY! The permits are handed out starting at 8 AM and only 30 permits per day are allotted. Be prepared for a mostly exposed 2.2-mile out and back hike (round-trip ~4.4-miles) which can get very hot especially in the summer months.
The Canopy Walkway and Tower was the highlight of our first visit to Myakka River State Park. We also really enjoyed spending time driving through the park, hiking along the Meadow Sweet Pastures, and viewing wildlife from The Birdwalk. If you’ve never been to Myakka River State Park, I highly recommend you add it to your list of places to check out in southwest Florida.
Information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to go to Myakka River State Park, I recommend utilizing the Florida State Park website to verify information in this post and to help you plan your trip.
Looking for more hiking?
If you enjoyed exploring Myakka River State Park, you might also be interested in visiting Hillsborough River State Park located in Tampa, Florida or Gasparilla Island State Park located in Boca Grande, Florida.