Just a few miles south of Sarasota, Florida on Rt. 41 lies Oscar Scherer
State Park quietly tucked into the community of Osprey, Florida.
This Sarasota Park has much to offer for enjoyment to environmentalists, nature lovers, bird watchers, bike riders, trail hikers, kayakers and canoeists, anglers, campers and picnickers.
While not as expansive as Myakka River State Park, Oscar Scherer State Park is no “light-weight” preserve.
And they like to stay involved with the community at Oscar Scherer State Park and they do that through a number of annual special events that bring the crowds out to the park in Osprey.
Some of these events include: the annual All Trails Hike, usually held in January; the annual Scrub Jay 5K and 10K run, usually in February, the two day Sarasota Folk Festival, usually in March; Earth Day, usually the third Sunday in April as well as other special events through the year.
Plus there are weekly events you can participate in, too, like a guided canoe ride (you can rent a canoe there if you don’t own one) with a Park Ranger on Wednesday mornings at 9:00 and a Scrub Jay, bird watching, walk with a zoologist or botanist on Sunday mornings starting at 8:30 (Free with your park admission fee).
One of the most popular things to do at Oscar Scherer State Park is hike the trails!
There are seven hiking trails. The newest, The Lake Osprey
Trail, opened in June, 2010.
With 7 trails to choose from there are about 15 miles of trails to hike.
Here, then, is a list of the various hiking trails with a description of some of that trail's characteristics:
You may also bike along some of the hiking trails at Oscar Scherer State Park where it is allowed, for example:
Also within the park is a small lake, Lake Osprey, but it’s big enough to swim in, however, the park does not allow canoes/kayaks/watercraft of any type on Lake Osprey.
But you can canoe or kayak on South Creek, which runs through and along the park.
South Creek also feeds into the intra-coastal waterway to the west and the intra coastal feeds into the gulf.
The Park also offers both tent and RV camping with fully equipped campsites.
Maximum RV length is 36 ft. and there are electric and water hook ups, nearby grills and picnic tables along with restrooms, hot showers and laundry facilities. Almost all the comforts of home!
Oscar Scherer State Park even has made seven ADA accessible sites with parking and concrete slabs for a grill and table.
Check in time is 3 p.m., Check out time is 1 p.m.
You are allowed to make a camping reservation as far as 11 months prior through ReserveAmerica or at (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. - 8 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.
Primitive Group and youth camping programs with special camping areas are also available and you can find out more about these programs by calling the park at (941) 483-5956.
Bring your fishing rod and tackle because you can drop a line here as well.
Above the dam you can catch bass, bream and catfish.
Below the dam you might catch Snook, redfish and snapper may be caught in the winter.
A Florida state fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 15 and a saltwater license may be required for fishing below the dam.
The park is filled with wildlife and is also a natural habitat for the protected Florida Scrub Jay.
Other wildlife you may see or encounter could include Great American Bald Eagles, Tortoises, Owls, Bobcats, Deer, Rabbits and Raccoons, yes, even American Alligators are found in various locations of the park (just in case you were wondering!).
And, all the animals in the park are protected by law and it's against the law to feed, harm or harass them. I know that sounds harsh, but It's always best to admire and appreciate the wildlife from a distance and leave them undisturbed.
Throughout Oscar Scherer State Park you’ll find pavilions, picnic tables and charcoal grills, a canoe launch and fishing dock.
There's also an Interpretive Nature Center with nature exhibits about and from Oscar Scherer Park and a children’s playground near the Nature Center.
And yes, you may bring pets along, IF: they are confined, leashed or otherwise under the physical control of a person at all times and leashes may not be longer than 6 feet.
Pets must be well behaved at all times, you must pick up after them, of course, and pets that are noisy or dangerous are not allowed to remain in the park.
So make sure Fluffy and Snowball are perfect ladies and gentlemen before you bring them along!
Whether you’re camping for a week or visiting for just a day to enjoy the park and its trails,
you’ll find something “natural” to appreciate about Oscar Scherer State
Park in Osprey; one of my favorite places to visit in Sarasota County,
Contact: (941) 483-5956
Hours: 8 a.m. – sunset, when gates are locked.
Admission: Per Vehicle Admission is $5.00 (Allows admission for 2 to 8 people per vehicle; over 8 people requires additional per person fees) (Subject to change)
Directions: From Sarasota go south on Rt. 41/Tamiami Trail to Osprey and watch for the park entrance on the east side of Rt. 41. From downtown Sarasota it’s about 13.5 miles to the park.