Finding calm in an urban area isn’t easy. But discovering nature in the city can be a necessity to some. It’s easy to find calm at Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs, Florida. With over 8,500 acres of wooded areas, wetlands and hiking trails, Brooker Creek is a large part of the area’s ecosystem.
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Located in Pinellas County, and just north of Clearwater, Brooker Creek Preserve is in the most densely populated county in Florida. You wouldn’t know it once you enter the preserve. It was originally home to Indigenous People who were part of the area’s Safety Harbor culture since 800 AD. As Spaniards and Europeans colonized the site, the Brooker Creek area became home for cattle and horse ranchers. In fact, until about 15 years ago, the area was still considered remote. And you can still see horse farms as you drive to the Preserve.
Habitats of Brooker Creek Preserve
There are four distinct habitats of Brooker Creek Preserve:
- Pine Flatwoods where tall, thin pines, saw palmetto and natural grasses grow
- Oak Hammocks consist of tall oaks that provide shade, causing fewer ground coverings allowing animals like white-tailed deer to forage
- Forested Wetlands is the ecosystem that includes Brooker Creek, which eventually flows into Lake Tarpon
- Cypress Domes and Swamps have a variety of flora and fauna, including bald cypress and black gum trees and marsh rabbits, owls, snakes and dragonflies
These habitats help create a system that assists with giving animals a place to survive in a shrinking environment, along with a critical ecosystem that protects the area’s watershed and drinking water supply.
Founded in 1992 by Pinellas County, Brooker Creek Preserve allows visitors to hike its 4 miles of trails. There are also 9 miles of horse trails and an environmental education center. It’s a great place to go bird watching so don’t forget your binoculars. Also remember your pre-filled reusable water bottle, sunscreen and bug spray.
There are picnic areas available. Also, the preserve offers environmental classes, guided hikes and kid’s summer camps. Dogs are not permitted in the preserve.
Brooker Creek Perserve is located in Tarpon Springs on Keystone Road, just west of the Tampa/Hillsborough County line. From the Tarpon Springs Spongedocks: head south on US 19 to Tarpon Springs to East Tarpon Springs Rd. Head west on Tarpon Springs Rd for 5 miles and the entrance will be on your right.