Oscar Scherer State Park

Established in 1956 and expanded to 1381 acres in the 1980s, Oscar Scherer State Park, south of Sarasota, Florida, protects scrubby flatwoods, vital breeding habitat of the threatened Florida scrub jay. Dominated by scrub oaks, wax myrtle, cabbage palm and scattered groves of slash pine, this scenic preserve is accessed by fifteen miles of hiking trails and is maintained by prescribed burns; the flat, sandy terrain is drained by South Creek, which meanders southward and then westward, toward Dryman Bay.

A nature center introduces visitors to this unique ecosystem and to the varied wildlife that inhabit the Park. In addition to the Florida scrub jays, the latter include ospreys, bald eagles, gray fox, bobcats, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer; Big Lake, at the southeast edge of the Park, attracts a wide variety of water birds and migrant waterfowl.

The entrance to Oscar Scherer State Park is on the east side of U.S. 41, approximately six miles south of Sarasota. The Park is open every day of the year, from 8AM to sunset; an entrance fee is charged. The preserve is also crossed by the Legacy Trail, a rails-trails bikeway that opened in March, 2008; ten miles in length, this path connects Sarasota and Venice.