Surrounded by urban sprawl, Oscar Scherer State Park is an unexpected oasis providing visitors with a refreshing escape into natural Florida.
Oscar Scherer is a hidden gem surrounded by housing developments and major highways, and the park plays an invaluable role in the preservation of Florida scrub-jay habitat. Bald eagles nest here in the winter and in the summer Lake Osprey attracts anglers, swimmers and kayakers.
Fifteen miles of trails provide solitude, beauty, challenge and a healthy adventure for everyone. The park is a popular stopover for bicyclists and walkers on the Legacy Trail, making Oscar Scherer an important place for the surrounding community and a worthwhile stop for travelers.
The park features 10 miles of biking trails with the Legacy Trail directly through the heart of the park. The Legacy trail is a 12 mile paved trail from the beaches of Venice North to Sarasota with the park located directly in the middle. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
The park is known for its population of easily viewed Florida Scrub-Jays. Pick up a bird list and explore the over 200 species of birds that live or frequent the park. Weekly bird walks are also offered. Fore more information, visit the Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park.
Oscar Scherer State Park offers 104 fully-equipped campsites for tent or RV camping with electric and water hook-ups. The picnic tables and grills provide a kitchen away from home. The clean, accessible restrooms have hot showers and laundry facilities. Fifteen miles of trails provide solitude, beauty, challenge and a healthy adventure for everyone.
There are seven ADA accessible sites, with aprons for parking and concrete slabs for grill and table.
Maximum RV length = 36 ft.
Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call 800-326-3521 (8 .m. to 8 p.m.) or TDD 888-433-0287.
Camping, Primitive Group
A primitive group camp area is available to rent. This site offers a composting toilet, running water and enough space to accomodate up to 40 people. Please call the park at 941-483-5956 to make reservations.
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 one from the Ranger Station. Canoes, single kayaks and double kayaks are currently available for rent and are launched from our ADA accessible South Creek Picnic Area. Paddles and life jackets are included with watercraft rental; please call the park for more information. Ranger-led canoe programs are available every Wednesday with guided night paddles once a month.
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 creek's diverse habitat.
Canoe and Kayak Rentals $15 + tax per hour ($16.05)
Daily Rate $60 + tax per hour ($64.20)
Both freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities are available at the park. Lake Osprey is a three-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 may be required.
Oscar Scherer State Park is home to several Geocache locations.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
Operation Recreation Geotour
Over 15 miles of hiking trails await you at Oscar Scherer State Park. 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 repellent. Make sure to request a trail map when entering the park.
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 park's 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. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, except during park-sanctioned events where alcohol is permitted within designated areas.
The Legacy Trail runs directly through the heart of Oscar Scherer State Park. This 12-mile paved trail runs from the beaches of Venice up to Sarasota with Oscar Scherer State Park right in the middle.
Snorkeling is allowed in Lake Osprey, our fresh water swimming lake.
Lake Osprey is a perfect place to cool off during the hot summer days. This three-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, fishing is not permitted in the designated, roped-off swimming area.
Several guided tours of the park are offered throughout the year. Please view our events for more information.
With over 15 miles of hiking trails and the 12 mile Legacy Trail running through the park, your walking options are wide and varied. Enjoy a stroll on the quarter-mile walk around Lake Osprey to a 12 mile walk on the paved Legacy Trail.
The park is well known for its population of Florida Scrub Jays which can be found throughout the park's 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 unlawful to harm, harass or feed them.
Oscar Scherer State Park is committed to providing a variety of accessible amenities to all of our visitors.
These amenities include:
Lester Finley Barrier Free Trail
Lake Osprey Trail
Lake beach access
Videos with closed/open caption
Picnic pavilions and benches
Oscar Scherer State Park is home to the only fresh water swimming lake in Sarasota County. One third of this two acre lake has a sandy beach.
Our Nature Center is open for visitors from 10 am to 3 pm most days and includes an interpretive exhibit. The Nature Center is located adjacent to Lake Osprey and a large picnic area, and a short walk from the campground. Please stop and chat with one of our wonderful volunteers to learn more about the park.
At the Lake Osprey Picnic Area, a bathhouse with inside cold water showers is available to all visitors. Pets (other than service animals) are not permitted in any of the restroom facilities.
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.
Pets are allowed in this park's campground and visitor recreation areas. Several campsites along the creek are not pet friendly due to their proximity to the water. 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.
Canoe Kayak Launch
The park offers two launch areas. One is a primitive ramp for kayaks and canoes only across from the Ranger Station. Launching during low tides is difficult. The other is an ADA-compliant canoe kayak launch at South Creek Picnic Area. Personal canoes and kayaks must be carried to the South Creek Picnic Area launch.
Campfires are allowed in the campground but only in the "ground grill" provided. Collecting of firewood is not allowed, however campers can bring in their own firewood or obtain it at the Ranger Station for a donation to the park's Citizen Support Organization the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park, Inc., whose members work at keeping firewood available. The donations are used to help support the park through special projects and improvements to park facilities. Campfires may be banned during extremely dry weather conditions. Please, never leave campfires unattended and extinguish them completely with water before vacating the site.