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Wild Florida

Improved backcountry access coming soon to Myakka

Trailhead kiosks and markers will enhance safety and accessibility thanks to a Two for the Trails grant.

Upcoming wayfinding improvements will enhance accessibility to Myakka River State Park's backcountry.
Upcoming wayfinding improvements will enhance accessibility to Myakka River State Park's backcountry.
Photo by Miri Hardy
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With over 37,000 acres of unique Wild Florida landscapes, waterscapes, flora and fauna, Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks. 

A 7-mile paved road provides access to park amenities for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but the majority of this well-loved local gem lies beyond paved roads, in the park's extensive backcountry.

Myakka’s backcountry offers an unparalleled and increasingly rare opportunity to experience expansive Wild Florida ecosystems. 

Exploring these areas helps cultivate nature appreciation, wonder, independence and responsibility for nature stewardship. It also helps visitors better appreciate the increasing challenges Myakka’s fragile ecosystems and park staff face, especially in light of encroaching development. 

Unfortunately, most park visitors do not venture into the backcountry, largely due to a lack of clear wayfinding and trail markers.

The lack of trail markers and trailhead maps represents an accessibility barrier for many visitors who don’t feel safe, empowered or encouraged to explore the backcountry. And some who venture out to the backcountry do indeed get lost. This results in a negative and potentially dangerous experience for visitors and creates a substantial drain on park resources. Restricted by both human resource capacity and cost, the park has not been able to take on this large but desired project.

Wayfinding improvements in Myakka’s backcountry are coming soon, thanks to a Two for the Trails grant of over $24,000 from Athletic Brewing Company recently awarded to Friends of Myakka River. Named after Co-Founder and CEO Bill Shufelt's family tradition of taking two brews to toast post-trail adventures, this grant program donates up to $2 million annually to nonprofits working to protect and restore local trails, waterways and urban greenspaces around the world. 

Approximately 200 trail markers and four trailhead kiosks with maps will be installed as part of this impactful wayfinding project, greatly enhancing accessibility to the park's off the beaten path areas. 

By empowering and encouraging park visitors to explore, enjoy and learn about Myakka’s magnificent and environmentally significant backcountry, substantial value will be added to our community and environment for years to come.

Friends of Myakka River exists to support Myakka River State Park and the Wild and Scenic Myakka River. Together, we're protecting and sharing Myakka's Magic, to the benefit of future generations, and our own. Follow us @FriendsofMyakkaRiver.



Miri Hardy

Miri Hardy is the first executive director of Friends of Myakka River, a nonprofit that supports Myakka River State Park. She’s been a Sarasota resident since 2014 and holds a doctorate in social psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. Miri is happiest exploring wild Florida, often on her bike, and capturing its beauty with her camera.

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