We’ve gone here several times in the last month. It’s a quick get a way for us and we get to spend some time near the water which I love. This 365 acre state-owned, county-managed preserve is located at the west end of Snead Island, west of Palmetto in Manatee County, Florida.
The attraction for us here is the hiking trails and semi-private beaches along the beach hiking trail. I’ve seen people fishing in several of these spots but we haven’t tried our luck yet. There is an area to launch a boat but you might want to get there early.
We went here originally to see the Indian Mound that is there, the Portavant Temple Mound. The mound is one of 15 that was made by the Safety Harbor culture (est. 900-1725). The Safety Harbor culture area extended along the central Gulf coast of Florida. At nearly 1,200 years old, the 12-foot-high mound is 150-foot-long and 80-foot-wide flat-topped mound is considered one of the oldest temple mounds in Florida. It is believed to have been the village of ancestors of the Timucua tribe.
There are numerous trails running thru the preserves including many boardwalks. The boardwalk near the canoe launch goes to an observation tower. I took Lola there for a walk today on one of the boardwalks and for the first time didn’t see many birds. To learn about the history of the Timucua Indians on the trails you will find helpful boards like the one above on the trails. My only complaint is that on the trails you will find the following helpful maps but where there should be a You are Here Marker there isn’t one except for this one.
There is also a canoe or kayak launch area that is just down the road.
This is the ceremonial mound right near the water where the boats are launched. It makes a great observation area. There are a few benches up there overlooking where the Manatee River meet the Gulf of Mexico.
They built the mounds out of discarded pottery, shell and bone. At the top of these mounds they built palm thatched huts for their leaders. They were also used as a stage for the tribe that would assemble there. The Timucua had many ceremonies. The chief gods were the Sun and the Moon, the Deer and other animals. There were numerous ceremonies and festivals for the harvesting season, planting season, marriages, funerals, wars, and fishing and hunting expeditions. Every ceremony had its own special rite, such as fasting, feasting, praying or dancing.
This is one of my favorite trails as it goes along the shoreline.
The beach trail is lined with these Sea Grape Trees which can grow to 30 feet. The grapes turn purple and apparently can make a good jam but not pleasant eaten raw.
The lush vegetation is everywhere you look. The old oaks are just gorgeous. You can find hints of the earlier village throughout the trails. The oak tree below would take at least 4 people to put their arms around it.
There are 4 picnic areas within the preserve. Some can even be reserved. Cooking is only allowed in the grills the parks provide. Alcohol is not allowed at all within the preserve.
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is a network of 510 premier wildlife viewing sites across the state. There are over 6 miles of trails for you to enjoy! check the freshwater wetlands for Mottled Duck, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill. The preserve supports a small number of Mangrove Cuckoos. Mangrove groves lines the park as you drive in.
“The Trail of the Lost Tribes” was established in 2000 as a nonprofit organization honoring Florida’s ancient people.
Address : 5801 17th Street West Palmetto, FL 34221