Terra Ceia Preserve State Park

The Terra Ceia Preserve State Park is a 2000 acre refuge along the south shore of Tampa Bay, in Manatee County.  A mosaic of mangrove swamps, freshwater wetlands, open meadows and upland woods of slash pine, cabbage palm and live oak, the preserve was established to restore natural habitat in an area once used for agriculture; though it is a State Park, there are no "amenities" at this point and parking is very limited.

The refuge is accessed by a network of graveled roads and sandy foot trails.  This morning, my wife and I encountered 21 bird species as we hiked through the preserve; turkey vultures, great egrets, American robins and palm warblers were most numerous while highlights included anhingas, wood storks, ospreys and noisy common gallinules.  Alligators inhabit the refuge but were not observed this morning.

Well off the beaten path, this Park is reached from Route 19, just south of I-275.  Drive east on Terra Ceia Road and proceed about 0.5 mile to Hightower Road.  Turn left, passing under I-275 and then continue westward to the parking area and gated entrance.