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Walking Club: Exploring Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park

Starkey Wilderness Park
Posted at 7:12 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 08:42:48-05

Many of us are looking for ways to remain active while also staying a safe distance away from others. That's why Sarah Phinney started a ‘Walking Club’ to highlight some hidden, and some not so hidden, trails and parks across Tampa Bay.

Jay. B Starkey Wilderness Park is a must-see spot in Pasco County, but it can be a little overwhelming for first-timers. Sarah breaks down what entrance you should use, what you need to do before you hit the trail and which loop you should try out first.

Where is it?
First timers should use the entrance off of Starkey Blvd. Put this address in your phone before you hit the road:

10500 Wilderness Park Blvd
New Port Richey, FL 34655

Where should I start?

Jay. B Starkey Wilderness Park is huge. In total, the park spans 12,000 acres.

According to Mark Berlinger, Jay B. Starkey Park Site Supervisor, there are 11 miles of hiking trails, another 11 miles of equestrian trails, 19 miles of mountain bike trails, a birding trail and much, much more. There is also a roughly seven-mile asphalt bike trail.

“A lot of people are surprised by how much wildlife is along that area,” said Berlinger.

Head for the kiosk first. It’s a good idea to jot down the cell phone number of the staff. Berlinger says it will be posted if no one is manning the kiosk at the time. That way, you can call if you need any assistance while out on the trails.

Also, don’t forget to take a picture of the map. Or, keep this close by.

Starkey Trail Map by ABC Action News on Scribd

The equestrian trail is yellow (E on the map). The hiking trail is orange (TH on the map. It stands for trail head).

You’ll find marks on trees painted the color of the trail. There are also signs with numbers that match numbers on the map so you can tell exactly where you are.

Berlinger suggests the 1.9 mile loop for beginners. You’ll hike from TH 0 to TH 1 to TH 2 to TH 3 to TH 45, back to TH 1.

Be sure to stop at the newly installed bird blind. You’ll find it shortly into the 1.9 mile loop.

Dogs are allowed, as long as they are leashed.

What else is there to do?

If an afternoon at the park isn’t enough, consider staying the night.

According to Berlinger, there are eight cabins, 17 tent sites and three primitive sites.

There are also playgrounds, picnic areas and shelters and a volleyball court.

Join Walking Club!

Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Instagram and Twitter.