Starkey Park Florida

Starkey Park Florida: Navigating to an Unforgettable Adventure

Sharing is caring!

  • Does Starkey park have showers?
    • Woohoo! The park is the perfect place to go on any trip – it’s got everything you need for a longer stay, like rental cabins and tent camping. The campground has all the bells and whistles – full restroom and shower facilities so you don’t need to worry about getting dirty, picnic shelters for days filled with delicious food and awesome conversations, plus a playground for the kids (or anyone who wants). So-o much fun waiting to be had here!

Starkey Park Florida is an outdoor oasis that offers a variety of recreational activities for tourists and locals alike. From fishing to camping, the park provides something for everyone.

Located in New Port Richey, Starkey Park Florida offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and the nearby mangrove forests.

You can take advantage of the park’s many amenities, including a nature center and a campground with over 100 campsites.

One of Pasco County’s largest undeveloped regions, the Starkey Wilderness Preserve, guards the county’s rapidly expanding western region’s vulnerable natural zones.

Three tracts make up the preserve:

  • Park Wilderness Jay B. Starkey
  • Tract of Serenova
  • Acreage along the Anclote River

The preserve is the result of the forethought and teamwork of people and governmental organizations that worked to realize “one man’s dream.”

The park has the name of Jay B. Starkey, Sr., who bought the property in 1937 and later built a cattle ranch and a logging enterprise on it.

When Mr. Starkey gave the District several hundred acres in 1975, the idea of permanently preserving the land and its treasures for future generations was born.

The Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, a regional park run by Pasco County, has picnic shelters, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, as well as a primitive campground and camping cabins.

It also links to the 42-mile Suncoast Trail through a paved trail.

What is There to Do in Starkey Park?

Starkey Park is a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts, families, and educational groups. You enjoy scenic hiking and biking trails, as well as a variety of habitats.

The park is also home to a large athletic field, playground equipment, a staging area, and a campfire area.

Starkey Park Florida campfires

Starkey Park is a great destination for a day trip or an overnight stay. You can expect to see a wide range of wildlife and bird species, as well as some interesting remnants of a fort.

There are also playgrounds, volleyball courts, and picnic areas. During the winter, there are ice-water troughs on the trails.

If you are a runner or cyclist, you will appreciate the paved trail at Starkey Park. This 10-mile route will take you through some of the park’s scenic beauty.

There is also a seven-mile course, known as Twisted Pine, which is a great option for those who want to stretch their legs. Another route, known as Bobcat Trail, connects the two routes.

For those who want to explore the history of the area, you can visit the Starkey Environmental Education Center, which includes a boardwalk, and interpretive trails.

In addition to the center’s education programs, it offers water quality testing and other activities.

Other activities at the park include a lighted Little League baseball/softball field, restrooms, and a concession stand. You will find a large athletic field and two pavilions that can accommodate up to 100 people.

Also available are electric and rustic camping spaces. A dog-friendly zone is available in the day-use area. Dogs must be leashed when in the park.

Aside from the equestrian and hiking trails, visitors can also enjoy the Starkey Wilderness Loop, a 20-mile bike route.

These trails are part of the larger Starkey Ranch trail system. Those who are interested in biking can head to the trailhead located at the west end of the park. Bicyclists must obey Florida law, which requires that those under 16 years of age wear a helmet.

The park is open from 6:30 am to 9 pm. In the summer, it closes earlier than the other Hillsborough County parks. However, visitors can still enjoy sunrise and sunset.

You can take a stroll along Eagle Creek, which is a popular spot for fishing. The Pithlachascote and Anclote rivers are also nearby. Fishing is allowed, but freshwater fishing is limited.

Starkey Park is perfect for outdoor recreation, camping, and nature study. A large range of habitats and ecosystems make it an excellent place for photography. It’s a good spot to escape the city and enjoy nature.

Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park Nature Hiking

There are also numerous educational activities available at the park. Children and adults can participate in orienteering, water quality testing, and other programs.

Those who are more interested in nature can attend a guided hike with park staff. The Starkey Environmental Education Center will provide you with more information about the park’s flora and fauna.

Hiking paths in Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park

You can access the Anclote River Ranch Tract, where they can take in the natural splendor of the preserve with minimal evidence of human habitation.

The Anclote River Ranch Tract has no named trails, however, hikers are welcome to use the existing unmarked roads and trails.

The District oversees the Serenova Tract for passive outdoor recreation activities rooted in nature.

You should expect a more basic outdoor experience in this region because of its few amenities.

The tract is popular for horseback riding, and the preserve’s principal natural communities are all traversed by the paths. At Serenova, horseback riding and rustic camping are also options.

The pine Flatwoods, cypress domes, freshwater marshes, stream and lake swamps, Sandhills, and scrub are the main ecological communities found in the preserve.

A connected 6,000-acre wetland ecosystem covering roughly 18,000 acres of protected lands is created by the 2,300 acres of wetland communities in Serenova and the wetlands in the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park.

This extensive wetland system has been preserved as a healthy, functioning ecosystem because of public purchasing of these areas.

During times of high water, this huge network of dispersed wetlands connects and plays an essential role in the life cycles of many species that depend on wetlands.

The preserve acts as a natural buffer for the Pithlachascotee River, one of the key freshwater resources in the area like many District properties do.

By serving as a natural filter for surface water as it travels across the terrain and empties into the Pithlachascotee River and its principal tributary, the Anclote River, the lands preserve the quality of the water.

A vital part of the multi-county water supply system that provides drinking water to the wider Tampa Bay area, the Preserve also acts as a recharge area for a regional well field run by Tampa Bay Water.

The crucial role that these lands play in ensuring that the Gulf of Mexico receives the clean, fresh water required to preserve the long-term health of the coastal estuaries is another, less obvious advantage of these lands.

The estuaries would not be able to play such an important role in the life cycles of countless bird species, aquatic plants like seagrass, and well-known fish species like redfish, sea trout, and mullet without a source of clean, fresh water.

There are miles of off-road riding trails, paved bike paths, and easy hikes for families with young children.

There are also overnight trips in the wilderness.

The park offers both groups and individuals a variety of camping choices.

In addition to the birding walk and bird blind built by the neighborhood Audubon chapter, there are day-use picnic spaces, a playground, an environmental teaching center, and other amenities.

Discovering Nature in Florida’s Starkey Park

The park bears Mr. Starkey’s name; however, ranching on this area extends back much further; at the time we first visited, he was still operating a ranch-based ecotour close to the park.

James McNeill, an Ocala native born on land his family had purchased under the Armed Occupation Act of 1842, fought in the Civil War as a Confederate officer.

The Southern Homestead Act of 1866, which increased the number of Florida homesteads available, is probably what allowed him to acquire the land along the Anclote River.

Following McNeill, the land was bought in 1906 and sold once more in 1915. J.B. Starkey acquired the area in 1937 and sold the state 8,000 acres in the early 1970s.

Over the course of more than a century, turpentine camps, wood activities, a raised bed railway for logging, and river bridge construction all took place.

The first inhabitants of Florida left archeological traces in the park, seasonal settlers from the coast who came inland for farming and hunting.

Interpretive hikes are led by park employees and volunteers to off-the-beaten-path locations that are historically significant to the area.

He bought the land on which he established his homestead from the state in 1882 for 90 cents per acre.

Today, not much of it is left, although there is a family cemetery and a historical marker in the woods.

Starkey Wilderness Nature Trail

Starkey Wilderness Nature Trail
Photo Credit: Tiia Monto

The 1.3-mile Nature Trail leads from the farthest parking lot into the Pithlachascotee River floodplain across thick hardwood hammocks. It features numbered posts that correlate to informative stations along the path and is blazed in green.

Near the murky water of this slow-moving river, a spur comes to an end among cypress knees. When we last went, there was a Bluebird Trail that connected to the Nature Trail around Shelter 5, and there was a blue routed sign with a bluebird on it.

The West Pasco Audubon organization built a sizable bird blind beside Grassy Lake, which is studded with lilies. Each month’s first Saturday, the group hosts seminars and leads birding hikes at the Starkey Environmental Education Building.

The Florida scrub-jay, Sandhill crane, American kestrel, swallow-tailed kite, and of course bluebirds have all been observed in Starkey Wilderness Park.

Directions to Starkey Park

Follow SR 54 west from the Suncoast Parkway to Little Rd (CR 1). Travel 2.2 miles north. After 1.3 miles, turn right onto River Crossing Blvd and proceed to make a left onto Starkey Blvd.

Continue a quarter mile to make a right on Wilderness Road, which leads into the park and ends at the very back of the park near the parking areas by the Nature Trail.

Other trails begin near the day-use area and horse corral area.

Starkey Park in Florida is one of the Sunshine State’s best-kept secrets. Located in New Port Richey, this incredible park is known for its stunning views and amazing wildlife.

From fishing to hiking, Starkey Park has something to offer everyone!

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly day trip or an adventurous escape from the city, Starkey Park has it all.

Sharing is caring!

Scroll to Top