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Peaceful Hiking in St. Petersburg: Weedon Island Preserve

Beautiful views from the boardwalk at Weedon Island Preserve - St. Petersburg, Florida

Weedon Island Preserve is one of your best bets for a peaceful wildlife-filled nature adventure in St. Petersburg. A day exploring the 3190 acre preserve allows you to take a break from the city congestion, discovering new wildlife and taking in beautiful views of the bay and forests.

The highlight here is a 45 foot tall observation tower overlooking the Bay. Views of Tampa and St. Petersburg are amazing!

Observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Check out these fantastic views!

Views from the observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Views from the observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

The St. Petersburg skyline peeking up above the trees

St. Petersburg skyline from the observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve

A short half mile loop around a boardwalk will lead you to the tower. There are approximately 2 miles of boardwalk trails within the park (they connect to each other via a paved interpretive trail). Forested views of the mangrove forest are available on both sides, although there is not much shade so bring sunblock and a hat!

Boardwalk to the observation tower at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg

Trees lining the boardwalk at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Along the boardwalk trails, you will have many opportunities to view the beautiful saltwater ponds, and possibly even hear a mullet jumping in and out of the water. These fish live in tropical waters and are known for leaping out of the water.

Pretty pond views at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Beautiful pond views at Weedon Island Preserve - St. Petersburg, Florida

In addition to the tower, Weedon Island includes almost 3 miles of shaded nature trails. The beautiful scenery along the way includes pine flatwoods and maritime and xeric hammocks. The basic 1 mile Boy Scout Loop is perfect for a quick outing.

An additional 2 miles are available if you wish to continue on. In addition, a short interpretative trail is available for those who wish to learn more about the local ecosystems.

Tree lined trails at Weedon Island Preserve -St. Petersburg, Florida

Palm tree on the trail at Weedon Island Preserve - St. Petersburg, Florida

Peaceful tree lined views at Weedon Island Preserve - St. Petersburg, Florida

The trails are easy with no hills. The only problem you may encounter is heat exhaustion. Be careful in the hot Florida weather – summer afternoons are brutal! Go early or late in the day if possible. If not, bring plenty of water, a fan mister, and hat to block the sun.

We came across an armadillo on the trail. They are extremely fast! In fact, this was the first time I was able to capture a semi decent photo. As you can see in the 1st picture, it is attempting to hide as we walk along the trail. As we backed up, we were able to snap a quick photo.

Armadillo hiding on hiking trail at Weedon Island Preserve - St. Petersburg, Florida

Armadillo on hiking trail at Weedon Island Preserve - St. Petersburg, Florida

We also saw the strange looking bird (pictured below). This bird never moved an inch, even when we walked right past it. On our return route, the bird was still in the exact same spot!

Odd looking bird at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Later on in the hike, we came across a group of deer. They didn’t move an inch! So peaceful and beautiful!

Group of deer on the hiking trail at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Within the preserve, you will find a Cultural and Natural History Center, providing interactive exhibits. You will pass the center on your way over to the second boardwalk with the observation tower. The paved interpretative trail links the 2 boardwalk loop trails.

Several programs are available throughout the month including: guided hikes, bird walks, and photography hikes. To register for any of these events, visit the Weedon Preserve website. The center has very limited hours, so plan accordingly. (Thursday-Saturday from 9am-4pm).

Weedon Island Preserve is a fantastic nature oasis in St. Petersburg. I will definitely return for a second visit. The hiking trails were shaded for the most part and crowds were non-existent. Weedon truly is a must-see when visiting St. Pete.

Beautiful bird along the trail at Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg, Florida

Amenities within the preserve include: picnic areas, canoe and kayak rentals, and a fishing pier.

Tips

*Bring with plenty of water! I like to use one of these hiking hydration backpacks, so I do not have to carry around multiple water bottles.

*Pick up a hiking map at the main parking lot or print out the one provided below.
*Plan for the heat if making an afternoon visit. Wear a hat and loose fitting clothing. Do not over exert yourself. Bring plenty of water.
*While in St. Petersburg, be sure to take a stroll around the beautiful downtown district, visit one of the areas top rated beaches, or check the extensive calendar of unique yearly events.

Trail Map

Location: 1800 Weedon Drive NE St. Petersburg, FL 33702

Hours: 7am until time posted at the entrance (usually 15min or so before sunset)

Have you ever visited the Weedon Island Preserve? What wildlife did you encounter?



5 comments

  1. […] fun waterfront activities (check out the Madeira Beach dolphin cruise), beautiful nature preserves (Weedon Island in St. Pete is a must-see), and great restaurants (Columbia’s is amazing). Overall, taking a […]

  2. […] a nature stroll at Weedon Island Preserve, one of the best places to escape the crowds and […]

  3. […] bets for fun, relaxation, and affordability all rolled into one is St. Petersburg’s beautiful Weedon Island Preserve. Far away from the beach congestion, Weedon Island provides hours of relaxing fun in the form of […]

  4. Thank you – I am glad you enjoyed it. Can’t wait to explore more in St. Petersburg and surrounding areas!

    • John
    • August 20, 2014  at  10:03 AM

    Enjoyed the post. I’ve visited Weedon Island many time and, you are right, it is a peaceful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Pinellas County.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Happy trails ~ John



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