A Guide to Walking in the Woods for Families on Northern Tampa Bay
Pasco County, just north of Tampa, offers some excellent walking opportunities to explore, even with young children. Many of the Pasco County hiking paths can support a wagon or most strollers and several paths are short enough for young children to enjoy without getting exhausted.
Hiking in Starkey Park
Located in New Port Richey, off Starkey Boulevard, Starkey Wilderness Park offers a nature trail, 27 miles of trails, almost 7 miles of paved trails, and a historical site with a small, labeled trail around it.
The nature trail and the historical trail are short enough for most children. The nature trail exhibits several trees and plants native to Florida. There is a possibility that lizards, armadillos, and even snakes will be spotted while traveling this trail. The historical trail is an archaeological site that consists of an old Florida farmhouse site. There is a rusted car, a graveyard, old fencing and logs that are clearly labeled.
The seven miles of paved trails leads from Starkey Park to the Suncoast Bike Trail. This area is for biking, walking, and rollerblading. It is common to spot armadillos, snakes, and alligators along this trail. An occasional bear is spotted along the trail although bears are removed to their natural northern habitat in Hernando County.
As an added benefit to hiking, there are several geo-caches hidden in the park along the trails. Many of the geo-caches are located close enough that families with wagons or strollers can search for them. Information on geo-caching can be found here.
After a walk, families can have a picnic lunch near the accessible playground. The playground has both small and large play equipment, swings, sandboxes, and a log cabin playhouse. Turtles live in the bordering wild areas and can often be seen wandering the open field near the playground looking for food or warm sun.
Walking in Serenova Tract
Run by Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Serenova Tract is located off highway 52 in northern Pasco County. This area is a perfect place to take a family hike into the wild Florida. Most of the area is undeveloped and undisturbed.
This area offers horseback riding trails, off road biking trails, and hiking paths through scrublands and woods. There is a primitive campground and a horse campground located in the area. The horse campground is close enough for most children to hike too, although the paths are not stroller accessible. The paths are wide and easy to follow because the horse riders keep the growth away from the paths. The walk meanders by a small pond, through the scrub lands and into a wooded area. At the horse camp there are pit toilets and picnic tables. Kids will be drawn to the bath tub and water pump used to water the horses. The path has a nice selection of rocks and shells for children to touch. Turtles and armadillos are plentiful in the bushes so keep an eye and ear out for creatures to spot.
Visiting Crews Lake Park
Crews Lake is located north of highway 52, off Shady Hills Lane. The Pasco County Park has a small bike path and short walking paths throughout the park. Any of these are suitable for most children. Some walking paths are too sandy for strollers. Crews Lake is now mostly a dry lake but a beautiful walking path that borders the old shore line is full of old trees, some climbable. There is a huge lookout tower that children will enjoy climbing. In addition to the many short paths, there are two playgrounds within the park and a train. The train’s schedule is posted as visitors enter the park. A family could pack a picnic and spend several hours exploring this park and its amenities.
Walking as a family is a great way to connect, exercise, and spend some quality time together. These parks offer suitable walking paths and many more amenities for a family outing.