(Last Updated On: December 30, 2022)
Pathway through the park at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Pathway through the park at Paynes Creek Historic State Park. Photo: Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a walk through the live oaks along Paynes Creek and learn more about Florida’s early settlers. Not just another historic state park, Paynes Creek Historic State Park was created to protect the historic sites of Fort Chokonikla and the Kennedy and Darling Trading Post that existed here during the mid 1800s.

This picturesque and historic area lies along Peace River in Hardee County, Florida only 67 miles south of Tampa.

The fort and trading post are only a memory now but visitors are able to view where they once stood and imagine what life looked like here nearly 200 years ago. Visitors to this Florida state park are able to learn more about the tensions between 19th century pioneers and the native Seminoles, and also have opportunities to hike, bike, fish, kayak, picnic and bird watch.

Activities

Come spend a day inside this peaceful park and discover more about Florida’s history. A museum inside the Visitor Center is dedicated to the remembrance of Florida’s early pioneers and their conflict with the Seminole Indians.

Inside the museum guests can learn more about frontier life and about Fort Chokonikla and the Kennedy and Darling Store through exhibits, displays and videos.

For guests comfort, the park provides pavilions with picnic tables and grills, restrooms, a playground and a trail system. Bring a picnic lunch, relax under the live oaks along Paynes Creek, and then hit the trails with your binoculars and bird guide.

Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Paynes Creek Historic State Park:

Boating at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Peace River Paddling Trail, a designated Florida paddling trail flows swiftly through the park. The high river banks and swift stream may make it hard to paddle. Less experienced paddlers may want to put in further downstream.

A canoe launch is located on Peace River.

Hiking at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Paynes Creek Historic State Park has 3 miles of trails that extend throughout the forest and scrub area and along Peace River and Paynes Creek. From these trails, visitors are able to access the site where Fort Chokonikla and the trading post once stood. A monument exists there now as a remembrance of those lives that were lost here.

Here are a couple of the trails at Paynes Creek Historic State Park:

  • Peace River Trail – An easy 1.1 mile sandy trail through the flatlands along the river. Benches are scattered along the way to rest and see the local flora and fauna.
  • Historic Trail – Easy 1 mile trail through the forest area inside the park. This trail may be muddy so dress accordingly.

Biking at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Bring your bicycles and spend some time exploring the trails or riding along the park’s main drive. All riders under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet.

Fishing at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Fish for largemouth bass, snook and catfish from boat or shore along Peace River. Anglers say this river can be a challenge, so come prepared and don’t forget to pick up a Florida fishing license on the way.

Birding at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Paynes Creek Historic State Park is one of the stops along the 2,000 mile Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail and a great spot to see native and migrating birds. As visitors walk along the trails and past the river and through 10 natural communities within the park they are treated with glimpses of bald eagles, warblers, hawks, vireos, Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanager, Painted Bunting and many, many more.

Nature and Wildlife at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Beautiful Paynes Creek Historic State Park showcases many species of wildlife. Park guests enjoy seeing butterflies, birds, snakes, lizards, white-tailed deer, turtles, alligators and bobcats during their visit. Every once in a while a Florida black bear is seen passing through the park!

Pets at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Pets are allowed at Paynes Creek Historic State Park as long as they are supervised and kept on a hand held leash no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not allowed inside park buildings.

Camping at Paynes Creek Historic State Park

Paynes Creek Historic State Park features a primitive group camping area along Paynes Creek for organized youth groups of up to 30. This camping area includes a portable toilet, a pavilion with picnic tables and a fire ring with benches. No electric or drinking water is available. For reservations call 863-375-4717.

Park Location

Paynes Creek Historic State Park
888 Lake Branch Rd
Bowling Green, FL 33834
Phone: 863.375.4717

Park Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Paynes Creek Historic State Park: