OSCAR SCHERER STATE PARK
A large acreage of scrubby flatwoods makes this park one of the best places to see Florida scrub-jays, a threatened species found only in Florida. The park protects scrubby and pine flatwoods that were once widespread throughout Sarasota County. Fifteen miles of trails through these beautiful natural areas provide opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and wildlife viewing. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along South Creek, a blackwater stream that flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Canoe and kayak rentals are available, but motorized boats are not permitted in the park boundaries. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are available along the creek. Anglers can fish along the shores of Lake Osprey, which is also the park?s swimming destination. Picnic areas along South Creek are equipped with grills; pavilions can be reserved for a fee. The park has full-facility campsites and a youth/group campground. The park nature center has exhibits and videos about the park?s natural communities. Located on U.S. 41, two miles south of Osprey.
The Park is well known for it's population of Florida Scrub-Jays which can be found throughout the parks Scrubby Flatwoods Plant Community. Other Species of wildlife including Bobcats, Bald Eagles, Gopher Tortoises, White-tailed Deer, Eastern Cotton-tail Rabbits, Raccoons and American Alligators can be seen at times in different areas of the park. Be sure to pick up an animal list and hiking trail map upon entering the park and ask a Park Ranger for more information on wildlife observation. Please Remember that all animals are protected and it is un-lawful to harm, harrass or feed them.
In her will, Elsa Scherer Burrows (1884-1955) left the family?s 460 acre South Creek Ranch to the state in memory of her father Oscar Scherer (1856-1923), inventor of a process for dyeing shoe leather in 1872. After a year of preparation, Oscar Scherer State Park was opened to the public in 1956.
Sometime later the classification for parks? changed and it became Oscar Scherer State Recreation Area. Three decades later, Realtor and environmentalist Jon Thaxton began campaigning for the state to protect adjoining Florida Scrub-Jay territory. With help from the Nature Conservancy and wide public support, the state?s Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program used Preservation 2000 funds to purchase 922 acres of adjacent land from Palmer Ranch in 1991.
With the addition, the present Oscar Scherer State Park came into being. It now preserves more than two square miles of nature in a rapidly developing area, and provides resource-based recreation for some 130,000 visitors annually.
Our Nature Center is open for visitors and includes an interpretive exhibit. The Nature Center is located adjacent to Lake Osprey, a large picnic area and a short walk from the campground.
Oscar Scherer State Park Full Facility Camping Oscar Scherer State Park is a Seasonal Camping Park. Campsites are available for tent or RV camping with complete hook-ups for electric and water. Reservations may be made up to eleven months in advance. One night's camping fee deposit will be required (credit card only ? must be canceled within 24 hours of check-in time for refund). For more information on camping in our park simply click on the Reserve America link. Clicking on the park map or selecting one of the camping area links just below the park map will allow you to see a map of the individual campsite locations. Select any campsite icon to see a detailed description of the individual campsite and what it has to offer.
A separate camp area is available for organized youth and adult groups. Tents only. No pets allowed. Amenities include pavilion, campfire circle, restroom, and cold water shower. No electric service available. Limited to 60 people. For reservations call the parks Ranger Station as Group Camp reservations are not yet made through Reserve America.
Campsites are available for RV camping with complete hook-ups for electric and water. Reservations may be made up to eleven months in advance. One night?s camping fee deposit will be required (credit card only ? must be canceled within 24 hours of check-in time for refund). Campsites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet.
Lake Osprey is a perfect place to cool off during the hot summer days. This 3-acre freshwater lake has a sandy beach front and is located at the Lake Osprey Picnic Area. The lake is also open for fishing, however no fishing is permitted in the designated roped off swimming area.
Canoeing South Creek is one of the more popular recreational activities available at the park. Visitors can launch their own canoe or kayak or rent a canoe from the Ranger Station. Canoes are currently available for rent and are launched from the South Creek Picnic Area. South Creek is a tidal black water stream that flows through the park. The Creek begins north of the park and is formed by rainfall and freshwater run-off and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The creek fluctuates with the incoming tide and is brackish (a mixture of fresh and salt water). Mangrove trees, Giant Leather Fern, and Cabbage Palms are a few of the plant species that can be seen growing along the edge of the creek. Wading birds such as the Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron can be seen feeding in the water while Ospreys soar overhead. Occasionally alligators and otters can be seen taking advantage of the creeks' diverse habitat. Ranger led canoe programs are available every Wednesday.
Both freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities are available at the park. Lake Osprey is a 3-acre freshwater lake providing anglers with the opportunity to catch bream, bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish. The lake is stocked with catfish as part of the urban fisheries program sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. South Creek provides an opportunity to catch saltwater species. A fishing dock located off of the Lester Finley Trail is a great place to fish. A fishing license is required for persons over the age of 15, and can be purchased at the Sarasota County Tax Collectors Office in Osprey.
Snorkeling can be done in Lake Osprey, our fresh water lake.