Three Pinellas County Nature Preserves to Visit

Pinellas County has three awesome nature preserves to visit if you enjoy hiking and exploring the outdoors. These preserves will make you feel like you are much further outside the city than you are and are worth a visit. The three Pinellas County nature preserves that I have visited are Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, Brooker Creek Preserve, and Weedon Island Preserve. 

Boardwalk at Brooker Creek Preserve
Boardwalk at Brooker Creek Preserve

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve   

The first Pinellas County Nature Preserve to visit is Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. It is 245-acres and located right in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida. It is the perfect place to escape from the city and log some miles on one of the nature trails. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve also provides numerous educational programs throughout the year. Check the website for the current monthly schedule here.

Trail surrounded by trees at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Know Before You Go – Boyd Hill Nature Preserve  

  • Address: 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705 
  • Hours: Hours of operation vary by time of year 
    • March 1st through October 31st 
      • Tuesday through Sunday: 9 AM to 7 PM  
      • Opens at 7 AM on Saturday 
      • Closed Monday’s 
    • November 1st through February 29th  
      • Tuesday through Sunday: 9 AM to 6 PM  
      • Opens at 7 AM on Saturday 
      • Closed Monday’s  
    • Trails close approximately 30 minutes before the nature preserve closes  
  • Lake Maggiore Environmental Education Center Hours: 
    • Tuesday through Sunday: 9 AM to 6 PM 
    • Opens at 7 AM on Saturday 
    • Closed Monday’s 
  • Amenities: Education center, hiking, camping, history museum, educational programs, aviary, guided hikes, educational programs, restrooms  
    • Pets are not allowed  
  • Fees:  
    • Adult: $3 
    • Children 3-16 years: $1.50 
    • Under 3 years: Free 
Lake surrounded by trees and palms at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Hiking at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve  

There are multiple short interconnecting trails throughout the preserve. There are 5 miles of trails to explore through multiple different ecosystems including swamp woodlands, willow marsh, pine flatwoods, and sand scrub trails. A list of the trails and distance is below. The trails are well marked, but I recommend picking up a copy of the trail map at the education center before heading out on your hike. 

A trail sign at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Hiking Trails 

  • Main Trail: 0.82 miles 
  • Old Bridge Trail: 0.09 miles 
  • Field Mouse Trail: 0.26 miles 
  • Pine Flatwoods Trail: 0.2 miles 
  • Sand Scrub Trail: 0.32 miles 
  • Uplands Trail: 0.6 miles 
  • Wax Myrtle Pond Loop: 0.12 miles 
  • Lake Maggiore Island: 0.04 miles 
  • Lakeside Trail: 0.75 miles 
  • Canal Trail: 0.12 miles 
  • Center Loop: 1.2 miles 
  • Field Loop: 0.25 miles 
  • Live Oak Path: 0.15 miles 
  • Willow Marsh Boardwalk: 0.14 miles 
  • Swamp Woodlands Boardwalk: 0.13 miles 
Tall, skinny trees lining the nature trail at Boyd Hill

TIP: There are water stations set up throughout the park, but I would also recommend bringing plenty of water just in case it is empty or not set up during your visit. The trails have limited shade, so don’t forget your sunscreen and consider visiting early in the morning, especially during the summertime.  

Brooker Creek Nature Preserve 

The second Pinellas County Nature Preserve is Brooker Creek Nature Preserve. It is approximately 8,700 acres and is in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The preserve has hiking trails and an education center to explore. There is one main parking lot and from there you can access the boardwalk trail to the Environmental and Education Center. Be sure to stop in and see the informational displays or talk to a park ranger to learn more about the preserve.

Additionally, they host a variety of educational events and guided nature hikes. Check the website here to see upcoming events.   

Welcome sign at Brooker Creek Preserve

Know Before You Go – Brooker Creek Nature Preserve  

  • Address: 3490 Keystone Road Tarpon Springs, Florida 34688 
  • Hours: 7 AM to sunset 
  • Environmental and Education Center Hours: 
    • Thursday through Saturday: 9 AM to 4 PM 
    • Sunday 11 AM to 4 PM 
  • Amenities: Boardwalk and nature trails, education center, birding trail, wildflower garden, picnic area, guided hikes, educational programs, restrooms  
    • Pets are not allowed 
  • Fees: Free 
Pavilion at Brooker Creek Preserve entrance

Hiking at Brooker Creek Preserve  

The highlight for me at Brooker Creek Preserve is the 5+ miles of hiking trails. Several of the trails are interconnecting and can be combined to complete a longer hike.  One thing to keep in mind is if there has been recent rain the trails are likely to be wet or muddy. You can check with the rangers in the education center for current conditions of the trails. The boardwalk area is mostly shaded, but once you get on the other trails there is a lot of sun.  

Tree hanging over sandy trail at Brooker Creek Preserve

Hiking Trails 

  • Ed Center Trail Loop: 0.7 miles 
  • Wilderness Trail: 2 miles (one-way) 
  • Flatwoods Trail Loop: 1.5 miles 
  • Blackwater Cutoff Loop: 2.8 miles 
  • Pine Needle Path Loop: 4 miles 
  • Bird Path: 0.1 mile 
Brooker Creek Preserve trail sign

Weedon Island Preserve  

The third Pinellas County Nature Preserve is Weedon Island Preserve. It is 3,190 acres and is excellent for hiking and kayaking. Weedon Island is in St. Petersburg, Florida near the Gandy Bridge. The preserve includes over 4-miles of hiking and a 4-mile kayaking trail. There is also a cultural and natural history center you can visit to learn more as well as guided hikes.  

A picture of me at the observation tower at Weedon Island

Know Before You Go – Weedon Island Preserve  

  • Address: 1800 Weedon Drive NE St. Petersburg, FL 33702 
  • Hours: Open daily at 7 AM until 15 minutes prior to sunset 
    • Closing time is posted at the preserve entrance daily  
  • Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center Hours: 
    • Thursday through Saturday: 9 AM to 4 PM 
    • Sunday: 11 AM to 4 PM 
    • Closed Monday through Wednesday  
  • Amenities: Boardwalk and nature trails, guided hikes, kayaking, history center, observation tower, fishing, picnic shelter, restrooms 
    • Pets are not allowed  
  • Fees: Free 
Boardwalk trail surrounded by trees at Weedon Island

Hiking at Weedon Island Preserve  

The hiking trails are interconnected and over 4-miles of hiking is available. Boy Scout Trail is approximately 1 mile, and there is an additional 1.7 miles of nature trails. Additionally, there are almost 2-miles of ADA accessible paths on the boardwalk trails plus paved trail. Don’t miss climbing the 45-foot Bay Observation Platform which allows you to see downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg from the same spot on a clear day. 

The view of a lake and St. Petersburgh in the distance from Weedon Island observation tower

Hiking Trails 

  • Boy Scout Trail 
  • Bay Boardwalk 
    • Provides access to Bay Observation Platform 
  • Tower Boardwalk 
  • Lookout Point Trail 
  • Upland Trail (paved) 
Nature trail surrounded by trees and banches at Weedon Island Preserve

Kayaking at Weedon Island Preserve

Another popular activity at Weedon Island is kayaking through the mangroves! I spent my first visit to Weedon Island kayaking and it is still one of my favorite spots in the Tampa Bay area. One thing you will want to be sure to check before you head out at Weedon Island is the tide to ensure the water is deep enough in all areas for your vessel to maneuver through.  

Me in an orange kayak paddling through the mangroves at Weedon Island

The South Paddling Trail is approximately 4-miles and best accessed during mid to high tide. You can launch your own kayak or paddleboard or rent from Ecomersion at the preserve. Ecomersion offers guided tours which include your rental or just rentals if you prefer to explore on your own. More information can be found here.  

A picture of the front of an orange kayak with the mangroves surrounding the water

Final Thoughts on Pinellas County Nature Preserves 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited each of these nature preserves, but I was impressed with the quality and quantity of nature trails available. All three of these spots are some of my favorite places I have explored in Pinellas County thus far. If I had to choose Weedon Island Preserve is probably my favorite because you can explore on land or in the water. But you won’t be disappointed regardless of which nature preserve you chose to explore first.  

Have you visited any Pinellas County Nature Preserves? Leave a comment and tell me which one is your favorite or if I should add any others to my list!  

River surrounded by trees at Brooker Creek Preserve

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The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. Information will be verified and updated periodically. If you are planning to visit any of the Pinellas County Nature Preserves, I recommend verifying the most current information with the respective websites.   

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