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.
Oscar Scherer State Park is located near Bradenton, Englewood and Nokomis
There are pavilions located in the park that can be rented for picnics, meeting, reunions, weddings, etc.
Each of the five bathhouses in the Family Campground are equipped with restrooms and hot water showers, and are for registered campers only. Non-campers may also use these showers, however they must register at the Ranger Station and pay an additional fee. At the Lake Osprey Picnic Area, a bathhouse with inside coldwater showers is available to all visitors. Pets (other than service animals) are not permitted in any of the restroom facilities.
The South Creek Picnic Area and Lake Osprey Picnic Area each provide visitors with picnic tables, charcoal grills, pavilions, and a playground. South Creek Picnic area has a restroom, small pavilion and a canoe launch. Lake Osprey Picnic Area has a bathhouse, two pavilions, and a Nature Center located next to Lake Osprey. The pavilions and Nature Center are each available for rental. The Nature Center is equipped with a kitchen, folding tables, chairs, and a sound system. It also includes several exhibits about the parks various plants and animals. It is a great location for weddings, family reunions or business meetings. Please Contact the Ranger Station for additional information, reservations and current rental rates.
Six marked hiking trails provide visitors an opportunity to explore various remote portions of the park. Numbered benches conveniently placed along the trails provide resting spots and, since the numbers correspond with numbers on the trail map, visitors can determine their exact location on the trail. Keep in mind that there are no restrooms or shelters on the trail. You may want to wear good hiking shoes, bring drinking water, wear a hat, and use sunscreen and insect repellant. Make sure to request a trail map when entering the park. For information on what you might see along the trail, be sure to check out the Resources and Endangered Habitats section.
The park offers several marked trails with a combined length of approximately 15 miles. Both hikers and bicyclists share these trails. Since much of the trails consist of fine loose " sugar sand" , a mountain bike is recommended. The trails meander through two distinct plant communities and are a great way for visitors to get a closer look at the " Oscar Scherer Outback" . Due to the specific use of and width of the trails, please refrain from riding bikes on the Lester Finley Trail and the South Creek Nature Trail. Both trails are marked to show foot traffic only.
Be sure to visit the Interpretive Nature Center located in front of scenic Lake Osprey. The Center showcases the parks scrubby flatwoods. Home of the Florida Scrub Jay, Gopher Tortoise, and Eastern Indigo Snake. Dioramas, Videos, Displays and Touch Table enlighten the senses and help visitors learn more about the park. Open most days from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. To find out if the center will be open during your visit call the Ranger Station at (941) 483-5956.
Pets are allowed in this park's campground and visitor recreation areas. They must be well-behaved and kept on a six-foot, hand-held leash at all times. Pets must not be left unattended, nor taken into restroom facilities or onto playground equipment. Service animals are welcome in all areas and buildings of the park, as required by law. Also by law, no pets are allowed on the swimming beach or in the lake. As a safety concern we do not allow pets in rental canoes.
Pet camping is available at Oscar Scherer----- State Park. Pets must be confined, leashed (not to exceed six feet in length) or otherwise under the physical control of a person at all times. Tethered pets must not be left unattended for more than 30 minutes. Quiet hours must be observed from 11:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. Pet owners must pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all pet droppings in trash receptacles. Florida law requires that pets be vaccinated against rabies. Any pet that is noisy, dangerous, intimidating or destructive will not be allowed to remain in the park. Non-furbearing pets, such as reptiles, birds, or fish must be confined or under the physical control of the owner. Some animals may be prohibited on park property. Failure to abide by these rules may result in the camper being asked to board the pet outside the park or to leave the campground.
Oscar Scherer State Park is located on U.S.41, six miles south of Sarasota. Heading south on I-75 take exit 200. Heading north on I-75 take exit 195.