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Walking Club: Exploring Emerson Point Preserve

Posted at 12:39 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 09:26:54-04

Many of us are looking for ways to be active while also staying socially distanced from others. That’s why Sarah Phinney is starting a ‘Walking Club’ to highlight some hidden, and some not so hidden, trails across Tampa Bay that are great places for you and your family to check out.

Switch up your weekend walking routine and visit Emerson Point Preserve! It will not disappoint. You’ll find rich history, shaded trails and beautiful views! What more could you want?

Where is it?

Emerson Point Preserve is in Palmetto. It’s an easy drive over the Skyway for folks in southern Pinellas County and only takes about 50 minutes to get there from downtown Tampa. Put this address into your GPS before your head out:

  • 5801 17th Street West Palmetto, FL 34221

What’s the backstory?

Emerson Point Preserve has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Visitors will find a trail near the entrance of the park leading to the Portavant Temple Mound. The 1,200-year-old Indian mound is one of the largest in the Tampa Bay area.

“The temple mound was a ceremonial spot, there was a village all around it,” said Charlie Hunsicker, Director of Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department.

A home was eventually constructed there after the Civil War by the Portavant Family.

“They built a home on top of the mound at the time,” said Hunsicker. “Those were earlier days when remnants of early American civilizations were not respected the way they are today. The remnants of that home, the chimney, the foundation, are still there. In fact, it was continuously occupied until about 1938.”

Interested in learning more? There are boards with more detailed historical information surrounding the mound and at the top.

What else can I find at Emerson Point Preserve?

There are multiple shell trails throughout the preserve, as well as one that’s a bit sandy near the Terra Ceia Bay. Beautiful boardwalks weave through vegetation and across water. There is also a 1.5-mile paved trail that leads to the tip of the point. It's a great place to watch sunsets!

Make sure to visit the observation tower for sweeping views of the preserve, Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay. You can see the Sunshine Skyway and if it’s a clear day, downtown St. Pete.

Fishing is permitted along the perimeter of the preserve. There are also two places to launch canoes and kayaks.

Click here for a map of the trails and fishing and paddling locations.

When should I visit?

Hunsicker encourages families to visit Emerson Point Preserve in the summer because you can see a variety of plants and animals that you wouldn’t be able to see in the fall or winter. Just make sure to bring bug spray!

“Florida does have its seasons, believe it or not,” he said.

Emerson Point Preserve is open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset.

For more information, click here.

Let Sarah know if you visit Emerson Point Preserve or if have an idea for a trail that she should feature. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.