A family at Emerson Bayou

A family at Emerson Bayou

A variety of hiking trails and plenty of water access can be found on this natural peninsula at the western tip of Snead Island near Palmetto. A central roadway provides automobile access to the entire length of the park, and a parallel bike path provides the same access for cyclists.  
Shady trails lead to the flat-topped ceremonial temple mound constructed 1,200 years ago by Native Americans living at the mouth of the Manatee River. Massive oak trees mingle with native flowering plants and remnant fruit trees planted by the area’s pioneers. Interpretive signs tell the history of the Native Americans and the various pioneers who lived at this crossroads of the Manatee River and Lower Tampa Bay. Kiosks at each parking area along the roadway explain native plants and commonly seen wildlife. Other routes lead through hardwood hammocks, mangroves and shorelines, alternating between boardwalks and sandy trails.

A highlight is the sandy shoreline at the westernmost tip. From here you can really get your bearings, with the Robinson Preserve and DeSoto Memorial across the river and Anna Maria Island and the Sunshine Skyway in the distance. This preserve is the perfect place to take a Sunday drive with a mobility-limited friend or family member, allowing them to enjoy nature’s beauty from the comfort of an automobile.  5801 17th St. W., Palmetto

A boardwalk meanders through a hardwood hammock

A boardwalk meanders through a hardwood hammock

Fast Facts

  • More than 270 acres of preserve lands
  • State owned and operated by Manatee County
  • Manatee River was called Oyster River on early Florida maps; oysters fed the Native Americans, and the hard shells were used to build the shell mounds.
  • Robert S. Griffith built a home on the top of the temple mound in the 1860s. He soon married Anna Webb and moved to Osprey to be near her family at Spanish Point.

Trip Tips

  • Several recommended fishing areas
  • Bring your bike and “park and ride.”
  • No concessions, so bring a picnic lunch
  • No glass, no alcohol
  • Pets on leash OK
  • Open 6 a.m. to sunset—do not get locked in!
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