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.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, Key Vista Nature Park is the perfect place for you. The roughly 100 acre park feels like a world away from busy southwestern Pasco County. Along with a trail, you see great views of the Gulf of Mexico and, if you’re lucky, gopher tortoises!
Where is it?
Key Vista Nature Park can be found just a few miles west of US 19 in Holiday. Put this address into your GPS: 2700 Baillies Bluff Road, Holiday, FL 34691
You’ll wind through some neighborhoods before ending up at the park.
What can I find at Key Vista Nature Park?
The park features a one-mile unpaved trail that is a relatively easy walk, but be prepared for some sand to get in your shoes!
Make sure to go to the bathroom and get some water before heading out. There aren’t many amenities along the trail, but there are cut-throughs if you need to get back to the parking area quickly.
You'll notice some areas along the path that seem a little more open than other parts of the nature park. That's because Pasco County is working to restore the habitat of gopher tortoises, one of the most predominant species at Key Vista.
“If you’re hiking down the trail and you see a gopher tortoise, just kinda wait for it and step back. It will cross in the direction it’s going,” said Cristina Cordon, Pasco County Parks and Recreation Superintendent. “If for some reason it’s in the pavement or on the road, stop your car and let it cross. If it is moving, you can move them in the direction they are moving by picking them up on the sides.”
Dogs are allowed at the park on six-foot leashes, but be sure to keep them away from any gopher tortoises.
What else is there to do?
Key Vista Nature Park visitors will also find a 45-foot observation with views of the Gulf of Mexico and Anclote Key.
There is also a beach, but it is primarily used by fishermen (and for pups to cool off!).
If you’d like to extend your walk, take the newly reopened boardwalk to Anclote Gulf Park.
“You can come and hike with your dog and then you can take the boardwalk to Anclote Gulf Park,” said Cordon. “There’s a fishing pier there, two large dog parks, playgrounds for the kids, all sorts of things.”
The north side of the park borders Rocky Creek Bayou. There are plans to improve the shoreline there.
“We’re actually starting on it this year so we’re hoping to get it done as quickly as we can,” said Cordon.
Cordon says they're also considering putting kayak and canoe launches there.
When should I visit?
The park is open every day from dawn until dusk. The best time to visit is in the morning. There is no fee to park.
“There’s not much undeveloped land in this portion of the county,” said Cordon. “So it’s kind of a great thing when you park here and you walk in, you almost forget that you were just driving surrounded by neighborhoods.”