Myakka River State Park is part of the Florida State Park system in Sarasota and full of 58 square miles of gorgeous scenery. It’s known for its lakes, wetlands, and meandering waterways.
However, its true claim to fame is the Myakka canopy walkway, giving visitors the opportunity to hike among the tree tops.
My friend and fellow blogger, Tia (Pennies in my Pocket) set out for a spur of the moment adventure to visit a park that neither of us had ever been to. I’m super grateful that she wanted to come along with me because I finally have GOOD pictures of me kayaking on the water in my element!
If you want to visit the Myakka canopy walkway as the first stop on your visit inside the park, then I suggest you take the west entrance from HWY 72.
Kayaking at Myakka River State Park
Google Maps directions took us to the north entrance of the park so it made sense for our first stop of this visit to be one of the largest of the 2 lakes, Upper Myakka Lake. We rented kayaks from the concessionaire near the lake and were surprised to learn the kayaks were aluminum (as of the original writing of this post).
Thinking back on it, the aluminum kayaks are probably a lot less likely to have a bite taken out of them by an alligator.
I had only been in a plastic kayak up to this point but how different could it be really?
I was definitely a little nervous because I know the Myakka River State Park waterways are full of alligators.
I hadn’t ever flipped a kayak so I felt confident that everything would be ok. For my friend though, this was her first kayaking experience but she was willing to be a trooper and I would be right there with her the whole way.
It was a gorgeous clear day on the lake. We paddled from the protected waterway all the way over to the dam that then flows into the Myakka river.
We were told if we wanted to access the Myakka river, we would have to get out and walk the kayak around the dam and then put in from there.
Yeah so that wasn’t happening.
I was content to paddle around the lake and observe the birds.
We never saw a single alligator surface during our paddle.
The winds shifted and the water started to get choppy so we realized we needed to start heading in.
Getting back to our put in spot was a struggle bus!! Every progression forward was E-A-R-N-E-D. The wind was in our faces and it was unrelenting. But by some miracle we made it back in one piece.
This probably wasn’t the ideal scenario for a first time kayaker, full disclaimer.
Everything You Need To Know About the Myakka Canopy Walkway
After our time on the water it was time to do what I was most looking forward to, the Myakka canopy walkway!
So what exactly is a canopy walkway?
It’s walkway, much like a boardwalk, built up high in the trees where you can literally walk among the tree canopy.
The Myakka canopy walkway is actually the first public treetop trail in North America. It is suspended 25ft in the air.
How Do You Access the Myakka Canopy Walkway?
The Myakka canopy walkway is located on the southwestern portion of the Boylston Nature Trail. This is a short trail less than a mile long accessed from the main road south of the Upper Myakka lake.
There will be signage to tell you and designated sparking spaces near the trailhead.
The nature trail is an easy hike but depending on recent rains it can be a bit marshy or wait so having proper shoes is important.
What is like in the Myakka tree canopy?
There was a one direction only wooden stairway that leads you up to the suspension bridge walkway and you are literally walking through the tree tops.
It was pretty cool and a really different way to see nature but sadly it was just a short walk across. I was expecting it to be longer. It’s about 100ft to the other side.
Once you cross the bridge there are more stairs that will take you up to a 75ft look out spot at the top of the observation tower.
To say the view was stunning is an understatement. It was sensational!
There is a significant amount of stair climbing to access this area so those with health concerns should be aware before undertaking this part of the hike.
It is absolutely worth the hike up the stairs to take in these remarkable views.
More Things To Do at Myakka River State Park
There are many hiking trails, boardwalks along the lake, and biking trails. There is also Lower Myakka Lake which we didn’t get a chance to see.
Camping is allowed within the park. There are 3 campgrounds with 90 sites including cabins as well as tent sites.
They fill up fast, so you want to make your reservations as early as you know your plans. I would really like to return and stay in one of the cabins.
The airboat tour on the lake and a back country tour during the cooler months of the year sound like really fun activities as well.
There are trails that permit mountain bikes too for the cycling fans out there.
Myakka River State Park really is a natural jewel on Florida’s west coast. It should definitely be on your list of places to explore in Florida.
FAQs on Visiting the Myakka Canopy Walkway and Myakka River State Park
- Don’t forgot the insect repellent!
- Wear comfy closed-toe shoes for walking or hiking. Leave the sandals at home.
- Be mindful and use caution around the waterways and the lakes. This is gator country. Heed all of the warning signs.
- Bring change to use the viewer on the Myakka canopy walkway observation deck.
- There is a north entrance and a south entrance to the park.
- $6 entry fee. ($4 if single person in car)
- Fishing is permitted with proper fishing license.
- Pets are permitted in the park but there are limitations for specific areas. Consult the park website before your visit.
- Get a park map. Myakka River State Park is massive.