Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Back to Back Biking–Bird Walk and The Legacy Trail

January 31 & February 1, 2016                                                        Most Recent Posts: 
Palmetto Ridge Campground                                                              
Celery Fields Aren’t Really Celery Fields Anymore
Myakka River State Park                                                                   Lost in the Palmettos
Sarasota, Florida




Again we get out early to try to avoid large numbers of week-end park visitors from both the campground and day use folks.  We’re biking over to the Bird Walk which, round trip, is about 15 miles I think.  We go directly there, do not pass go, do not stop at the bridge, or the picnic circle, or the power line or the outpost.

Well sort of do not stop.  I really can’t help myself when I see this beauty by the side of the road.  We may not be seeing woodstorks or roseate spoonbills but we are seeing lots of Red Shouldered Hawks.  Or perhaps this guy just really gets around.





Not sure I’ve ever seen a hawk willing to share a perch before.  The crow must have gotten some bad vibes though since he didn’t stay long.



I catch David in my rearview mirror.  He isn’t really as far back as this makes it look.



We get the bikes parked and who do we see perched in the treed area at the beginning of the boardwalk?



Yup it’s him again or one of his relatives. 
Anyone know how to tell whether he is really a she? 
David thinks I may be making big assumptions.



Well he or she, she’s beautiful.



So is this little Palm Warbler we see down low on the vegetation near the water.



It’s a gray day as we walk out to the end of the boardwalk. 
Most of the birds we see are in the grasses near the beginning. 



This year’s bird that wins the award for ‘not usually so common’ is the limpkin.



The award for Ducks we usually see in numbers but not this year is the cute little Pied Billed Grebe. This is the first one we’ve seen.





In the category of ‘here every year’ are the Great Egret and the Anhinga.






The award for ‘more sightings than usual’ goes to the seemingly ever present red shouldered hawk.



We pedal back to the Outpost for the purpose of checking out the Weir trail again.



This time we walk as close as we can get to both entrances to the weir trail.  We can see a dry section of the trail over there but no way short of swimming to get to it.








Back out on the drive, Mutt and Jeff are still fishing together.




Not sure I’ve ever seen a Great Blue Heron scratch his ear.



Time for something new.  I head in to Meadow Sweet Pasture road to see how far we can go before the mud gets to be too much for our hybrid tires.

In 1910 Bertha Palmer, a Chicago socialite and widow of Potter Palmer came to Sarasota to establish a winter estate. She purchased, for $70,000, fifteen  thousand acres for cattle ranching, citrus groves, and real estate development.   As a member of the Florida State Livestock Association, she operated the ranch she called Meadow Sweet Pastures.  Much of that land is what now makes up Myakka State Park. 


We head down the road that once led to the ranch manager’s home.  Looks dry so far.



But by the time we get to the information sign things have turned into a lake again.



So we turn around and head back to the park road.  No exploring from this direction today.



Nice entrance sign and easy access for biker and hikers but none for non official drivers.




We stop at the power line road again but this time we take it down to the river.



The river is so unusually wide here.  I take its picture to my right and then to my left.





The Myakka River to my right looking toward Upper Myakka Lake where the Birdwalk is located.



Myakka River to my left looking down river toward where the bridge nearest the campground is.



No pink spoonbills today but we do spot this lovely piece of color on an ant hill in the grasses.







We stop at the Canopy Walk and try the entrance.  No go.  Too much water.  We try the exit and it looks like, if we are careful we can get there.




We arrive and find that we can’t even walk over to the entrance end from here.  It is sitting in a lake.  The entrance side has a short tower up to the canopy walk which is one way.  You walk up and over the canopy to the tall tower on the far end.




But today we are clearly going to have to do the reverse.



Back at the tower end, David checks out the EXIT Only sign.




He goes out on the canopy first.



And then it’s my turn to be in the tree tops.   Really neat.  Wish there were birds up here but I suppose they have learned that this is a place where some mighty big folks are up much higher than usual.



On my way back across the Canopy Walk I realize that usually you don’t get to go both ways or across twice unless you go to the ground and walk back over and up the entrance again.  So it’s our lucky day. I see the folks at the top from here.


I also see David as he climbs up the tower to the top where we will be above the tree line.
I’m still on the Canopy Walk but call him over for a picture.



Some newly formed lakes are visible from up here.




Wonderful views from every direction.



Being up here high above the trees makes me ponder how small we humans are in spite of all our vibrato.  It’s warm enough for short sleeves which is great.








The tops of the palms look  like a mosaic.


Time to head back down and give others a chance to enjoy such a lofty perch.
I watch David going down and down.



I get this picture of him waiting for me when I am about 1/2 way down the stairs.  It’s a tall tower.  You can hear people on their way up changing their minds and turning around or eliciting assurances that their companions think it is safe.




Back on our bikes we stop at the picnic circle where the Snowy Egret’s two buddies are not around.  But he’s high steppin’.  Showing off his golden slippers.






We’re headed back to the bridge



Looking out from the bridge there isn’t anybody to be seen other than that log near the grasses edge.





On the other side of the bridge, we find an anhinga with fly away feathers drying himself in the sun.




And a great egret preening.




Mike & Barb Agrati

That’s pretty much the end of our ride and as I’m turning to get back on my bike, a woman walks up to me and says “Don’t you write a blog”?   “I read your blog”.  

That is always such a surprise when people I don’t know, know me.  What fun to meet Barbara and Mike from New Jersey who are in Florida for the winter.  They have the pull through site just in front of us for a week.  We chat for some time and discover we have a great deal in common.  They are kayakers too.  We see them several other days while we are at the park.  We’re here for two weeks and they are here for the first of those.

When I go to put this post together and look through my pictures I find that in all the times we’ve seen and talked to them, I don’t have one picture.  SO Barbara is nice enough to send me one for this post.  Actually she sends me several including one she had taken that very morning of a pair she said I could call Barbara and Mike.   They had found this pair on their trash run.   One thing I love in my friends and commenters is a sense of humor and Barbara sure has it.




But don’t worry about these bandits nicknamed Barb and Mike. Someone reported them and a kindly ranger put a pole in the dumpster to act as a ladder.  I assume the bandits were able to make it out.   Such fun Barbara, thanks for the pictures!  It was great meeting you both and we hope to see you on down the road.  Good luck with your new rig!




Monday, more biking.  We join Bill and Nancy for a ride on the Legacy Trail from Oscar Scherer State Park to Venice and South toward the Gulf.

We’ve done the Legacy many times but always when we were staying at Oscar Scherer.  Today we drive down and pay the $5 entry fee to park there.  Luckily David gave me and Nancy sent me some pictures she took or this would be one sparce account.  I guess I just forgot to use my camera as much as usual.  Thanks you two!!

We have to drive two vehicles becasue of the 4 bikes so we park the car and truck in the parking lot and off we go.


01 - Biking the Legacy


Bill leads the pack in his bright lime green shirt.


There are several bridges along the trail which is for hikers and bikers only.  No motorized vehicles of any kind.






Looking out from this bridge we see many waterfront homes and one mottled duck.






I’m pleased to find not only pools with screen rooms but also quite a few solar panels.



The bridge over Route 41 as you enter Venice is an up hill climb.  Looks like Bill’s in the lead, I’m behind him, then David and Nancy who took this picture before starting up the bridge herself.


03 - Biking the Legacy


The view is out over Route 41 so there isn’t much of a view for the cage to obstruct.

04 - Biking the Legacy



Image result for venice train station on the legacy trail


On the other side of Route 41 we roll into the cute original Venice Train Depot.  I was surprised when I looked at my pictures not to find a picture of it.  I guess I’ve been on this trail enough times that I forget what it was like the first few times I rode it and how much I liked the train station.

So I borrowed this one that I could never take since it is from the air.  Thanks Wikipedia.


After the depot we pedal past some great murals on the other side of the canal.  The Legacy Trail ends at the Depot and you pick up the Venetian Waterway Trail.  They just merge into each other.  The VWT runs for 5 miles on either side of the Intracoastal Waterway Canal.  If you want to take the VWT to Casperson beach, you have to go up and over one of the two automobile bridges south of the Train Depot.   We don’t do that today and just bike right on down the trail.





One of the bridges you could cross if you wanted to go to Casperson is a draw bridge and we are lucky enough to be going by as it goes  up.



Here comes the boat for which the bridge was raised.  I know there isn’t another solution to that problem but it must cost a fair amount of money to raise and lower the bridge for one vessel.



There he goes, the bridge comes back down and the traffic across it proceeds.






At the end of the trail on this side is a small park with covered picnic tables where we stop for lunch.




After lunch we head back and luckily Nancy takes a picture of where the Venetian Water Trail becomes the Legacy Trail as we return to the park.

02 - Biking the Legacy


We approach the Route 41 bridge coming the other way.




And here comes Nancy on the fun part, riding down.



We’re almost there as we cross one of the streets that has a light just for Legacy Trail users.  Push the button and they stop the traffic in a flash.



Other than the mottled duck, the gopher tortoise is our only wildlife sighting today.  There are a number of gopher tortoise holes along the trail but it appeared that all tortoises were staying inside or had gone farther afield.


05 - Biking the Legacy


We rode an easy 20 miles today on a really nice trail.  If you are in South West Florida and you like to bike, there are several park entrances to the Legacy Trail that enable you to make your round trip ride shorter or longer than the 20 miles we did.  There’s even a place right on the trail that will rent you bikes if you need them.   See the maps for more information.



  1. So much excess water. My son was camping out near there over the weekend, and he said there was standing water 6 to 18 inches nearly everywhere. And it rained most of the time. Looks like you had some sunshine.

  2. Water, Water, EVERYWHERE!!! It really is a very different park when the waters are so high. Do miss getting out on the trails, but we always manage to find fun things to do. The Legacy and Venetian Bike trails were just that and such a beautiful day to be out there enjoying the sunshine:o))

  3. No way to tell sex on the Red Shouldered hawk that I know of …males and females look the same. However…the females are usually bigger so if you see the pair it's easy…but if you just see one then I always guess based on whether it's bigger than average or smaller. I guess if you see them mating you can tell the difference too:-)

  4. So much water! But really nice to see you in shirt sleeves. I loved loved loved the view from the Tower. And the murals. What a wonderful couple of days you have added to so many others. Nice, Sherry.

  5. Such fun meeting you after reading your blog for so long! As usual, enjoyed your pictures. Hope to see you down the road somewhere also!

  6. This was a walk down memory lane! We've done these bike trails!!! I loved climbing that tower. Can't believe how much water there is. Riding around Venice is so much fun. Love the gopher tortoise...so cute!

  7. I love the photo of the two birds sharing the stump, even if it was only for a short time. I have never been much of a bike rider, and haven't been on one for years. Looking at your pictures, I realize I have never worn a helmet, so I guess my biking experiences go back to before the use of helmets!

  8. At the right time of the year you can tell male from female, but you'd have to get up close and personal to do it. :)

  9. Enjoyed your post. The email has a working link now.

  10. That hawk might well have been following you. The bandits are cute!

    And the canopy structure really catches my eye.

  11. Wow, the water! I prefer it over drought, but that's a lot of water.

    How fun it must have been to meet readers of the blog. You have so many followers, Sherry. You write a wonderful blog. Thank you!

  12. Unless the bird's plumage is very distinctive between gender it's almost impossible for us laywomen to distinguish. I like the canopy walk, especially as you get to do it backwards, then forwards. And that high perspective is awesome. That was quite a long ride.

  13. Myakka River and Oscar Scherer State Parks always seem to have rewards even when conditions are not the best. Even better when the skies are blue, the wind is down and temps are 'normal'.

  14. Nice days there! We have a lot of hawks here too, we see them everywhere. Actually saw a roadrunner running through the grass behind us, but didn't catch a picture.

  15. The Legacy Trail is definitely going on our list for next year -- what a terrific ride! I love these mostly flat Florida bike trails. This year was the first time I've seen Limpkins (as you said, they're usually elusive), but I've seen dozens on our various kayak adventures. Looks like you guys are having a great time with friends.

  16. Must be a little frustrating, water too deep to walk through and too shallow to kayak in? As always, you find something else just as interesting to do. That skywalk, pretty cool. I'd loved to have watched it being constructed.

  17. I remember that tower and that bike ride :) So much water that wasn't there when I was! So great when people recognize you out on the road! How fun! More great bird pictures, especially the hawk :)

  18. It sounds like we have not explored this part of Florida and now is on the list of someday :)
    just another great day of biking with your friends and I enjoyed tagging along.


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