Managed in cooperation with
the Florida Forest Service and
the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)

 

photo of Florida Scrub Jay
David Moynahan
Florida Scrub-jay

The Myakka State Forest and Public Small Game Hunting Area (PSGHA) is located in southwestern Sarasota County, 10 miles west of Port Charlotte and three miles east of Englewood, within the city limits of North Port. The 7,295-acre PSGHA is part of the 8,532-acre Myakka State Forest. Winchester Road and the Myakka River, an Outstanding Florida Water and a Wild and Scenic River, divide the forest into multiple tracts. The central and largest tract comprises the PSGHA. The smaller eastern portion, also known as the Myakkahatchee Tract, is closed to hunting. The Winchester Tract borders a portion of Winchester Road at the Sarasota County line. It is also closed to hunting.

Habitats within the forest are a blend of longleaf and slash pine flatwoods, scattered depression marshes and small areas of scrub and prairie hammock. A small creek, a tributary of the Myakka River, flows through the area. The Myakka River eventually flows into Charlotte Harbor. Protecting these habitats helps to protect the water quality in the river and in Charlotte Harbor, an important regional resource for recreational and commercial fisheries. Wildlife is abundant on the area. Deer and bobcat are regularly spotted and turtles frequent the creek. Depression marshes host wading birds and alligators. A small population of Florida scrub-jays and gopher tortoises occupies scrubby flatwoods. Feral hog and small game such as doves, northern bobwhite and gray squirrels attract hunters. Over 100 species of trees and plants have been identified on the forest. Visit the forest office for brochures and more information. To manage the area, DOF uses a combination of timber harvesting, invasive species eradication and reforestation. Regular controlled burns improve conditions for vegetation and wildlife. The SWFWMD is working to restore wetlands lost to ditch and canal construction in the last 50 years.

Recreational opportunities include small game hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, camping and picnicking. The Florida Forest Service manages the resources and recreation on the area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission administers hunting related activities. The forest is open for public use year-round, from sunrise to sunset. A canoe/kayak launch is located on the main tract but is accessible on foot only (no vehicles). Over 19 miles of marked trails are open for hiking, bicycling and equestrian use. The trails are included in the Florida Forest Service's Trailwalker Hiking Program and the Trailtrotter Equestrian Program. Hog and small game hunts take place November - January. Quota permits are not required. Fishing is allowed year-round. Motorized vehicles may operate only on Shell Road. Primitive campsites are available in several locations. Campers must obtain a State Forest Use Permit. The PSGHA has four access points. Check the list below for regulations and more detailed information about hunting seasons.

Rules Regarding Dogs

  • For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed but must be kept under physical restraint at all times.
  • Hunting wild hog with dogs is prohibited. Waterfowl retrievers, bird dogs, and other dogs with a shoulder height of 17 inches or less may be used for hunting.

For more information: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (863) 648-3200 MyFWC.com/recreation; Florida Forest Service (941) 460-1333, FL-DOF.com/recreation.

 




FWC Facts:
The song of the wood thrush is so beautiful it inspired Handel to write a piece of music in the bird's honor. This songbird sings a loud, flute-like song, ending in a trill.

Learn More at AskFWC