J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park
J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park covers over 8,300 acres of land and is a cooperative
venture between the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and Pasco
County Parks and Recreation. Together with the adjoining 6,500 acre Serenova Tract
to the north and the 1,300 acre Anclote River Ranch Tract to the south, the Starkey
Wilderness Preserve is one of the largest recreational areas in central Florida
- all open to the public for exploration and recreation.
Starkey Wilderness Park is a favorite with local residents
in west Pasco County. Bicyclists make frequent use of the paved multi-use trail
that runs from the park entrance on Starkey Boulevard all the way to the west boundary
where it joins with the Suncoast Trail - a 7.3 mile ride one way. And mountain bikers
have 12 miles of single-track trail to explore. It is common to find casual hikers
and dedicated backpackers taking advantage of the large trail network that takes
them deep into the wilderness areas of the park.
Two rivers flow through the park - the Anclote and the Pithlachascotee. Neither
river is navigable this far up stream, and no kayak launch facility is available.
Hiking in and around the floodplains near the rivers is, however, a spectacular
experience - in the dry season of course (October through March).
The park offers all of the amenities and facilities required for an extended camping
or vacation destination - including rental cabins and tent camping. The campground
has full restroom and shower facilities, picnic shelters, and a playground. There
is even a corral, trailer parking, and 10 miles of horse trails for equestrian campers.
The main day-use area of the park includes
five picnic shelters and two large pavilions available for family get-togethers,
birthday parties, or large gatherings. There is also a large centrally located children's
playground. Several short hiking trails and boardwalks suitable for families and
small children offer a good way to explore the natrual surroundings and the area
near the Pithlachascotee River.
Here's a list of the features of Starkey Wilderness Park...
- Large day use area with 5 picnic shelters accommodating up to 50 people each, and
two large pavilions for up to 100 people. Pasco GeoFest will be centered at pavilion
"A" next to the playground.
- 4 and 8 person cabins with shower and restroom facilities.
- Tent camping area with shower and restroom facilities.
- Primitive tent camping areas (with no facilities, and not accessible by automobile).
- Equestrian facilities including a corral, trailer parking, equestrian camping area,
and 10 miles of marked horse trails. The adjoining Serenova Tract offers 18 additional
miles of horse trails and a larger equestrian camping area.
- 27 miles of marked wilderness hiking trails.
- A 7.3 mile paved bicycle path suitable for in-line skating. This path connects to
the 42 mile paved Suncoast Trail.
- Part of the Audubon Society's Great Florida Birding Trail - 177 species of birds
have been viewed in the park.
- Large children's playground next to pavilion "A".
- Environmental education center with classroom and laboratory facilities.
- Volleyball courts and athletic field.
- Horseshoe pits next to the large pavilions.
- McNeil homestead historic and archeological site.
- Dogs are allowed in the day use area - on a 6 foot leash. Sorry, no dogs in the
overnight camping areas.
- ADA approved restroom facilities.