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Florida State Parks

USA Parks
Central West Region
Crystal River Preserve State Park
Walk on the Beach ©
Spoonbills ©
Spoonbills feeding in Florida waters
3266 North Sailboat Avenue
Crystal River, Florida   34428

Phone: 352-563-0450
A place of exceptional natural beauty, the undisturbed islands, inlets, backwaters, and forests of this preserve are especially cherished by nature lovers and photographers. The park borders 20 miles of the northern Gulf Coast between the two cities of Yankeetown and Homosassa. Visitors can hike or bicycle along nine miles of trails or study the native wildlife and plants on the two-and-a-half mile interpretive trail. Anglers can walk down a short path to the Mullet Hole for a relaxing afternoon of fishing. Paddlers can launch a kayak or canoe into the waters of the scenic Crystal River to see the park from the water. On the third Saturday of each month, the visitor center features the Redfish Revue Theatre, a video presentation about the park. Located west of U.S. 19 in Crystal River.
Nature of the Area
Nature lovers and photographers will love the undisturbed islands where everything from bald eagles to wood storks call their home in the aquatic and upland environments of the preserve.
History of the Area
In 1968 St. Martins Marsh, one of the original aquatic preserves, was created by the state legislature. The state began to realize the unique ecological qualities and the economic importance of these submerged lands and moved to protect them. A later addition was Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, the largest in the state. As knowledge of ecological processes increased, it was realized that the aquatic preserves could not be protected if the water quality was not protected, and that water quality could not be protected without protecting the surrounding watersheds. In the middle to late 1970?s the state began to purchase land surrounding St. Martins Marsh. These tracts of land were originally named Crystal River State Buffer Preserve. Today the land total is approximately 30,000 acres with parcels from Yankeetown to Homosassa Springs. The Buffer Preserve became Crystal River Preserve State Park on January 1, 2004.
Visitors Center
The Visitor Center houses 6 floor to ceiling dioramas depicting habitats in the park. Other displays include three 125-gallon aquariums, 2 snake exhibits, a diamondback terrapin enclosure, and a touch table. The conference room is used for presentations and our once a month movies. These movies are free to the public. Outside the Visitor Center there is a demonstration Xeriscape garden with a pond and waterfall. A dock is situated along the Crystal River and has several tables and benches where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenery.
HERITAGE-ECO BOAT TOURS. The vessel "Monroe" (26 passengers) is the vehicle for a lower river Heritage-Eco Tour. The program " The Ancient River Dwellers" is provided weekly. The 1? hour trip allows the participants the opportunity to see the coastal marsh and learn how it and the associated marine estuary provided for the pre-Columbian people that lived here. Boat trips currently run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but are subject to change due to weather conditions. Call the park for confirmation of days and details at (352) 795-3817.
The Crystal Cove day use fishing area, locally known as the "Mullet Hole" , can be accessed by taking the first driveway, on the left, after entering the main gate on Sailboat Avenue. This fishing area extends along a canal system that eventually opens into the Crystal River. This area has restrooms but no picnic area or potable water. The entrance to the Redfish Hole is on the left, off of Fort Island Trail near mile marker #4. The fishing area is approximately a ? mile walk from the entrance. This area is an old borrows pit that is tidally influenced. In the winter it is a good fishing spot for game species such as redfish, trout, snook, and flounder. There is no restroom or potable water available.
Paddle the Preserve and enjoy it's exceptional natural beauty.

Eco-walk Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail and has 11 Discovery Zones that offer Sensory Sensitivity tips to increase your outdoor skills. The trail begins in a wet prairie and travels along the swamp, edging a hammock. During the spring and fall, neo-tropical birds and hawks can be seen on their migration. Deer, turkey, and wading birds also frequent the area. The trailhead to the Eco-walk Trail is located at the intersection of North Tallahassee Road and Curtis Tool Road.

Dixie Shores Trails. Entrances to the Dixie Shores Trails are located in the Dixie Shores subdivision off Ft. Island Trail (mile marker 2.5).

Ft. Island Trail is off US Hwy. 19 in Crystal River. These trails are part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Lake Loop Trail is located on the right hand side of Dixie Shores Drive. The trail is approximately a mile long and winds around three man-made lakes.

Hammock Island Trail is located on the left-hand side of Dixie Shores Drive and is approximately ? of a mile. This trail carries you from coastal scrub through a salt marsh and onto a hammock island.

Churchhouse Hammock Boardwalk and Path to the Past Trails. The Boardwalk Trail is 1/3 mile in length and is fully ADA accessible. It begins in an old Pinewoods that is slowly becoming a Mesic Hammock. Habitat restoration is underway to encourage the return of species such as the Longleaf Pine, gopher tortoise, and fox squirrel. The Path to the Past Trail is ? of a mile long, looping off the Boardwalk Trail and winding slowly out to a sawgrass marsh. Florida's *karst limestone topography can be seen at the surface, demonstrating the unique geology feature that typifies where springs find their beginnings. Our newest elevated boardwalk extension takes visitors through a sawgrass marsh and out to a hammock island. The entrance to the Churchhouse Hammock Boardwalk and Path to the Past Trails are located across the street from the Crystal River Mall on US Hwy. 19.
The main trailhead is located at the intersection of North Tallahassee Road and Curtis Tool Road. Curtis Tool Road is one block south of 7 Rivers Hospital off US Hwy 19 north of Crystal River. The bicycle trail is a 9-mile loop that can be accessed either at the trailhead on Tallahassee Road or the end of State Park Drive. This bike trail offers varied habitats from the Hardwood Hammock to Pinewoods and fringes a salt marsh. This is a trail for the experienced biker or hiker.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
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Area Campgrounds
B's Marina & Campground
6621 Riverside Drive
Yankeetown, FL
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
The Gulf Side Motel - Cedar Key, FL
The only motel in Cedar Key that is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico and is a short 5-minute walk to downtown shopping and entertainment. You can fish from our private, covered pier and boat dock, relax by the water and enjoy our covered picnic area and swings or rent a bicycle, golf cart or kayak and explore all that Cedar Key has to offer
31.8 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels
Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Crystal River Preserve State Park. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and can not be left unattended for more than a half-hour.

Visitor Center: is located at 3266 North Sailboat Ave. Take U.S. Hwy 19 3/4 mile north of the Crystal River Mall. Turn left onto State Park Drive at the Days Inn. Follow State Park Drive until it dead ends at the Crystal River. Eco-Walk: 5990 North Tallahassee Road. Take U.S. Hwy 19 north to just before Seven Rivers Hospital. Turn left onto Curtis Tool Road. The intersection of Curtis Tool and Tallahassee Road is the Eco-walk trail head.

Churchhouse Hammock: across from the Crystal River Mall.


Florida State Parks