Parks to Play In

Hike or Bike Through Rothenbach Park's Gorgeous Oak Hammock

A series of trails at the site of the former county landfill provides access to some of the nicest woodlands around.

By John McCarthy November 1, 2020 Published in the November-December 2020 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Rothenbach Park

A series of user-friendly trails hidden at the end of Bee Ridge Road at the site of the former county landfill provides access to some of the nicest woodlands around. Velvet smooth asphalt trails with rugged wooden bridges offer panoramic views of deer grazing on the grassy hill, alligators bathing in artificial wetlands and model airplanes soaring above.

One special trail circumnavigates the landfill and leads through a shady hammock of towering sabal palms and massive laurel and live oak trees. Breathtaking views greet you around every bend, with a rare silence so close to civilization. Cicadas perform a natural symphony, and green resurrection ferns draped upon oak limbs put on an elegant arboreal fashion show. This hammock is a remnant of the type of woods found on higher ground along nearby Cow Pen Slough, said to have been named by Seminole Holata Micco, the Alligator Chief.

A large picnic shelter with adjacent playground and restrooms is enjoyed by families looking for a fun place to spend a morning or an afternoon. Since Rothenbach Park is a former landfill, access to the hill is limited to facility staff and a radio-controlled airplane club. If you can’t resist climbing, the Celery Fields hill is a short drive away. 8650 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota

A picnic spot along the canal.

A picnic spot along the canal.

Fast Facts

Named for longtime Parks and Recreation Director Walter J. Rothenbach Jr.

Owned by Sarasota County Government

The park entrance is the county’s household hazardous collections facility, so bring your old chemicals to properly dispose of them.

The former landfill generates methane and requires constant monitoring.

The park playground is made from tens of thousands of recycled milk jugs.

Trip Tips

Plenty of parking

Picnic pavilion, playground and restrooms (no restrooms on trails)

No pets

Open daily

6 a.m. to sunset

Bring your bicycle!

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