Gracewater Is The Perfect Location For Hitting The Trails
“Take a hike” has multiple meanings. But to many, it means heading out to the great outdoors for some fresh air, an infusion of Vitamin D, and the chance to improve their overall health. Fortunately, living at Gracewater in Midtown Sarasota puts you within easy reach of some of the best trails in the area. In this blog post, we break them down by type of trail so you can start blazing trails that satisfy the entire family.
First, let’s start with the health benefits.
Because hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, your bones and muscles have to work harder against gravity than they would if you were swimming. This helps build bone density, which becomes even more critically important as we age. Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight helps your body absorb calcium, another important factor in maintaining bone density.
But did you know hiking can improve your sleep quality? In a 2017 study published in Current Biology, a University of Colorado Boulder researcher measured subjects’ sleep cycles before and during a weekend camping trip. During the trip, when subjects were exposed to natural light only (no electronics), their melatonin levels increased, and their internal clocks shifted earlier, suggesting that being around nature helps us shift to a natural sleep cycle. Another important and surprising reason to hike is that hiking boosts happiness, while combating depression. What’s not to love?
Want to hike with your dog? There’s a trail for that.
In fact, Sarasota has some of the most scenic trails in the Sunshine State. Whether you want to explore them on foot, on bicycle, at a run, or at a snail’s pace, they all are guaranteed to result in a day well spent, a healthier body, a better outlook, and a vow to return.
Sarasota has more than 50,000 acres of natural lands to explore with a wide variety of hiking experiences. Trails range from short nature walks to extensive wilderness hikes for those who are expert-level hikers. Here we break them down by their highest and best use.
Sleeping Turtles Preserve offers 4.7 miles of trail along the west bank of the Myakka River. Every few hundred feet, the heavily wooded trails break into a clearing that reveals beautiful views of the river.
Red Bug Slough (pronounced slew) has a devoted following. It’s two miles of natural beauty amid an urban setting, with two miles of trails.
Short nature and loop trails – two miles or less.
Need to fit in a quick hike? Celery Fields Loop is a .9 mile trail that offers a moderately challenging route and takes an average of 19 minutes to complete.
Circus Hammock is one of Sarasota’s best kept secrets. It’s a woodsy haven next to 17th Street Paw Park. It’s usually quiet and an easy hike on a 1.5 mile trail.
Lemon Bay Park is a 210-acre nature oasis in Englewood with 1.7 miles of shoreline on the beautiful Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve. It features a boardwalk that borders the Bay’s mangrove forests. It’s a great place to teach the kids about the importance of mangroves to Sarasota’s shorelines.
Rothenbach Hammock Loop Trail is a 2.7-mile loop trail that’s an easy route, and takes about 47 minutes to complete on average. It’s unlikely you’ll encounter many other people while exploring Rothenbach Hammock, so it’s an ideal activity for family bonding. It’s mostly in the shade and also has exercise stations, a playground, covered pavilions, and restrooms.
The Upper Myakka Lake Loop via Ranch House Road trail. It’s a moderately challenging route for plenty of smells, sights, and sounds to excite even the most laid-back, leashed canine. This trail is popular for camping, fishing, and hiking.
Emerson Point Preserve is situated on the West end of Snead island on the North shore of the Manatee river with Terra Ceia Bay to the north. It offers a network of hiking and kayak trails to experience a wide variety of coastal Florida wildlife and habitats. Ancient and historic remains of its inhabitants are accessible and well interpreted to give a sense of what life in Manatee County was like prior to and during its settlement.
Popular hikes for bird watching.
Siesta Key Beach is a birding paradise. It’s one of the best spots in the country to see the most unique varieties of sea and shore birds. Of course, you’re going to see Brown Pelicans by the dozens, but you’ll probably also catch a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, or Laughing Gull. Be sure to bring your binoculars.
The 287-acre Scherer Thaxton Preserve is adjacent to Oscar Scherer State Park and is alive with many types of bird species. Dotted with pine flatwoods, open fields, and lakeside trails, Scherer Thaxton Preserve is home to sandhill cranes, pileated woodpeckers, plus white tail deer, bobcats and other wildlife.