Serenova Tract
The serenova Tract is a part of the Starkey Wilderness Preserve occupying 6,533 acres bounded by the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park on the south, the Suncoast Parkway (S.R. 589) on the east, S.R. 52 on the north, and the Moon Lake subdivision on the west. This tract is owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) which controls the natural resources and recreational use of the preserve. The main entrance is off S.R. 52. Hikers, horse riders and bikers can enter from the south through Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park. There is also an access point with a walk-through into the western range of the preserve at the east end of Midvale Avenue in the Moon Lake subdivision.

There are 18 miles of unpaved multi-use trails in the Serenova Tract. Most of the trails serve as either utility access roads or fire breaks, in addition to their use for hiking, off-road bicycling, and horseback riding. A high-voltage power line easement bisects the property, running the full length from north to south. Some of the forest roads are hard-pack shell ... but most of the trails are dirt - varying from grass covered to sugar sand, depending on the natural community they pass through.

At the entrance off S.R. 52, there is a parking area suitable for vehicles and horse trailers. Access to the park is provided for pedestrians, backpackers, bikers, or horse riders. However, in order to take your vehicle or trailer to the campground area, you will need to make a reservation with SWFWMD and obtain a gate code. There is a large campground area about 1/3 mile into the preserve from the main gate. The Crockett equestrian camping area includes two picnic shelters, a horse trough with hand-pump well, and a restroom. A bit further down the trail is a non-equestrian tent camping area. No shower is available. The Serenova Tract is noted for being one of the very few areas where you can take your horse and trailer into the campground. This is a very horse-friendly preserve - and you can ride on any of the trails. This makes it a very popular weekend spot for local equestrians. Camping is free, but advance reservations are required - see the link at the bottom of this page for campsite reservation information.

Hiking or biking in the Serenova Tract can be fun as a family acitivity. Or, it can provide a challenge for experienced hikers and backpackers. Since the tract is contiguous with the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park and the Anclote River Ranch Tract to the south, it would be possible to trek over eight miles to the south without ever leaving the preserve. And if you go in the middle of the week, you may not even see another person along your way, if that appeals to you. Due to the numerous trails, firebreaks, and service roads, it is easy to avoid backtracking for your return route.

One interesting feature is a spot at GPS coordinates N28 18.405 W082 34.082 where there are remnants of an old hunting lodge that sketchy legends say Al Capone used as a hideout back in the roaring twenties. All that remains today is the stone chimney (still standing on my last visit) and a dilapidated fishing pier extending out into a small lake. The area near "The Chimney" (as locals refer to this area) - is idyllic. It's easy to see why old-timers came here as a retreat. Even though the ruins are not terribly impressive, people who enjoy hiking will love the 2½ mile journey to get here.

A variety of animals and plants - some endangered - inhabit the Serenove Tract. It is quite common to see gopher tortoises, white tail deer, armadillos, possums, wild turkey, wood storks, egrets, osprey, and the ever-present feral pigs. Best time to visit if you want to observe wildlife is at the break of dawn or at sunset. Hunting is not permitted anywhere in the preserve except when SWFWMD authorizes a special hunt. This is done periodically to control the hog population. Dogs are permitted on the trails as long as they are leashed. Note that Florida law requires bicycle and horse riders under 16 years of age to wear an approved helmet.
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