Oscar Scherer State Park, located between Sarasota and Venice, is an oasis in the midst of urban life. This beautiful Florida state park, only 70 miles south of Tampa, features a lake with sandy beach, 15 miles of trails, a campground and picnic areas.
Guests enjoy swimming, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, hiking, camping, biking and wildlife viewing during their visit to this serene location. The park is also a safe haven for the endangered Florida scrub-jays and attracts bird lovers from all over.
Oscar Scherer State Park is popular with visitors all year round but especially during the summer. At that time the park becomes an oasis for those escaping the heat and looking to swim, fish, camp, hike, bird watch and kayak.
The park also provides picnic pavilions with tables and grills, a playground and a Nature Center that highlights Florida’s native flora and fauna through exhibits, videos and interactive displays.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Oscar Scherer State Park:
Boating at Oscar Scherer State Park
Kayak, canoe or paddle along South Creek, a tidal black water stream inside the park. Two boat launches are available for guests to use, a primitive one near the ranger station and an accessible one at the South Creek picnic area.
Kayak and canoe rentals are available within the park.
Swimming at Oscar Scherer State Park
Swim, snorkel or float in Lake Osprey during your visit to Oscar Scherer State Park. This 3 acre freshwater lake, the only one in all of Sarasota County, has a nice sandy beach area alongside it. A picnic area is close-by.
Hiking at Oscar Scherer State Park
Pick up a trail map and explore the 15 plus miles of trails inside Oscar Scherer State Park. The 12 mile Legacy Trail flows through the park and another 7 miles of trails lead the hiker out to more remote sections around the park. Plan ahead if you will be out on the trails for any considerable amount of time.
Here are a few of the trails at Oscar Scherer State Park:
- Lester Finley Trail – This easy 0.7 mile trail that leads through wildflowers and past the creek. This trail is ADA compliant as is the wheelchair accessible fishing dock located along the creek.
- The Yellow Trail – An easy 5.5 mile sandy trail that winds through the scrub and flatwoods. This longer path offers very little shade.
- The Blue Trail – Easy 1.5 mile trail along an old road and through a section of Florida scrub-jay habitat. The Yellow and Red trails are easily accessed from this trail for those wishing to extend their walk or bike ride.
Biking at Oscar Scherer State Park
Bike riding, roller blading and hiking are popular within Oscar Scherer State Park. That’s partly because the Legacy Trail runs directly through the park. The Legacy Trail is a 12 mile paved path that extends from Venice’s beach area to Sarasota. Please be aware that Florida law requires all riders under the age of 16 to wear helmets.
Fishing at Oscar Scherer State Park
Don’t forget to bring your fishing gear and enjoy a relaxing day on the lake. Both freshwater and saltwater fish may be caught within the park. Lake Osprey offers up bream, catfish, largemouth bass and bluegill to patient anglers.
Fish from boat, shore or along the fishing dock just off Lester Finley Trail. Be sure to pick up a Florida fishing license ahead of time.
Birding at Oscar Scherer State Park
Oscar Scherer State Park is home to a large population of Florida scrub-jays. Because of this it is known as one of the best places for viewing this protected species.
Another 200 species of both native and migratory birds may also be seen here. Bring your binoculars and pick up a bird list at the Visitor Center to discover some of them. Herons, ospreys and bald eagles are just a couple of the more commonly observed birds here.
Nature and Wildlife at Oscar Scherer State Park
While Oscar Scherer State Park may be known for its large Florida scrub jay population, it’s also home to many other species of wildlife.
American alligators, otters, White-tailed deer, Eastern cotton-tail rabbits, bobcats, raccoons and Gopher tortoises may also be spotted here, among the mangroves, scrubby flatwoods and cabbage palms and along the creek.
Stop into the Visitor Center and pick up an animal list along with other maps and guides.
Pets at Oscar Scherer State Park
Pets are allowed at Oscar Scherer State Park as long as they are well-behaved, supervised and kept on a hand held leash that is no longer than 6 feet long. Pets are not permitted inside park buildings or in the swimming area.
Camping at Oscar Scherer State Park
Bring your tent or RV and spend a few nights inside peaceful Oscar Scherer State Park. The park’s campground features 104 sites with water and electric hookups, picnic tables and grills. Nearby bath houses also contain laundry facilities. A primitive group camping area that can accommodate up to 40 people is also available to reserve.
Oscar Scherer State Park
1843 S Tamiami Trail
Osprey, FL 34229
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Oscar Scherer State Park: