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Walking Club: Exploring Robinson Preserve

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 11:03:50-04

Many of us are looking for ways to be active while also staying socially distanced from others. That’s why Sarah Phinney started 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.

Robinson Preserve is one of the most popular spots for nature lovers in Manatee County, and it's easy to see why. Explore trails and boardwalks that lead to beautiful views of the water. Plus, returning visitors will find a new spot to check out that's an adventure for the whole family!

What is there to do?

Robinson Preserve is located in northwest Bradenton and borders the south side of the Manatee River.

There are more than 600 acres to explore. You’ll find coastal grasslands, salterns, marsh and mangrove habitat.

“It’s a beautiful setting for coastal habitat, coastal restoration efforts and natural Florida here in Manatee County,” said Charles Hunsicker, Director of Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources.

The preserve has paved trails, shell trails and boardwalks. A rubberized track, solely for walkers and dog walkers, but no cyclists, is closed right now because of construction (more on that later). Check out a map here.

Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash, cleaned up after and stay on the trails.

You can also take in the preserve from the water by launching a kayak at two different locations. Additionally, visitors can check out views of the area and lower Tampa Bay from a nearly 50-foot observation tower.

Camping, by reservation, and fishing are also permitted.

How do I get there?

There are three entrances to Robinson Preserve. The recommended entrance right now (because of construction) is the North Entrance.

Put this address into your phone before you head out: 1704 99th St NW Bradenton, FL 34209

The North Entrance has a visitor center, the Valentine House, and provides easy access to the paved and shell trails as well as boardwalks and observation tower.

What’s new?

You’ll notice some areas of the preserve are blocked off because of work on a roughly 150-acre expansion.

“It’s been constructed over about a three-year period and we’re entering the final phase that will be finished in December, said Hunsicker.

Once it opens, visitors will find new pavilions, restrooms, kayak storage tubes and benches. The rubberized track will also reopen once work is complete.

The Canopy Zone can be found in this area and opened in August. It’s an adventure for the whole family! You’ll find boardwalks, rope bridges, climbing nets and slides. Hunsicker says it’s already become a hit with people of all ages.

If you are interested in visiting the Canopy Zone, use the South Entrance: 10299 9th Ave NW Bradenton, FL 34209

When should I go?

Robinson Preserve is open daily 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset.

The Canopy Zone has the same hours.

Hunsicker says 200,000 to 300,000 people visit the preserve every year. If possible, aim for a weekday or early on weekend mornings.

Let Sarah know if you try out Robinson Preserve this weekend. If have an idea for a trail that she should feature, you can find her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.