Oscar Scherer State Park is a wonderful destination for hiking and biking.

With 15 miles of hiking trails to choose from, Osprey's Oscar Scherer State Park is a treasured spot for hikers and bikers. Nestled between residential neighborhoods, highways and major thoroughfares, Oscar Scherer provides a much-needed outdoor break, and serves as a preserve and home to much of the coast's fragile wildlife. Whether you are in need of a brisk walk, or want to go on a wildlife-searching adventure, Oscar Scherer is the place to be.

Where 

1843 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey

When

The park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown 365 days a year. Due to recent storms, some of the hiking trails have been flooded, so take caution while hiking and ask a park ranger about the safest routes. Avoid the mid-afternoon sun and evening thunderstorms by arriving early in the morning, when the park is quiet and nature is just starting to wake up. The morning sun will make hiking or biking the trails more enjoyable.

Admission is $5 per vehicle with two to eight guests, and $4 per vehicle with single guests. Entrance is $2 for an Annual Individual Entrance pass holder. Prices vary if you are looking to picnic at the pavilion, camp or rent a canoe.

What to Bring

You'll want to wear hiking or sturdy tennis shoes to walk the trails. Bring a backpack with bottled water, sunscreen, a hat and a snack. If you are biking, bring your bike and a helmet. Insect repellant is also advisable; mosquitoes are out in full force near bodies of water.

Oscar Scherer State Park is home to many endangered Florida scrub-jays. 

Image: Shutterstock

What to Expect

When you arrive at the park, a ranger will notify you of closed or restricted areas, and the best routes to take. Ask for a trail map and animal list before heading out. There are more than six marked trails and more than 15 miles to explore, with numbered benches placed along the way to help you stay on track, rest and take in the scenery.

If you are biking, there are 10 miles of trail to explore. The Legacy Trail, a paved path stretching from south Sarasota to Venice, runs right through the park, so you can bike that, too.

As you are walking or biking the trails, you will encounter an abundance of wildlife. The park plays a vital role in preserving the population of Florida's scrub-jay, a small, blue bird native to the area. You may also find gopher tortoises, white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail rabbits, raccoons and, on occasion, an American alligator. Your animal list will help you identify all the critters you encounter.

And if you happen to bring a swimsuit with you, cool off by jumping into the park's lake, the only freshwater swimming lake in Sarasota.

For more information, click here or call (941) 483-5956.