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Trip report: February 2013

Cockroach Bay...

Unspoiled Kayaking on Tampa Bay

Cockroach Bay is part of Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park and surrounding Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. Accessible only by water, this is a remote and natural area - no-motors and no development. The Bay and its many islands are ideal for kayaking. Paddlers can launch from various spots along, or at the end of Cockroach Bay Road, off US 41, south of Ruskin, FL. Two marked paddling trails, fishing and bird-watching are popular. (Detailed map, photos below.)

paddle Cockroach Bay, kayak, canoe

Cockroach Bay Paddling Trails

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Distance: South trail 5 miles, north trail 2 miles.
Location: Hillsborough County
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: Yes.
Launch points: Boat ramp, Cockroach Bay Road (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Little Manatee River State Park, Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve, Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park


Canoe Outpost (rentals)

Cockroach Bay... Comments and Photos

Most people paddle on the marked trails, but more paddling is available around the Bay and islands dotting the area. Be careful, it's easy to get lost in the mangrove, so a GPS or good map is recommended. Cockroach Bay (the name may derive from early explorers seeing many horseshoe crabs -"cockroaches of the sea" - in the area) can be choppy when windy. Paddling through the tunnels can be affected by tide.

Launch areas

Cockroach Bay can be reached from Cockroach Bay Road off US41 south of Ruskin, FL. There's a boat ramp at the end of the road - launch from the beach next to the ramp, or look for the breaks along the road approaching the ramp. Note: This is a very popular spot on weekends and holidays, when parking can be hard to find.)

On the Paddling Trails

We kayaked on the paddling trails, launching from the side of Cockroach Bay Road, near the boat ramp. Shady, easy on-off, better than ramp at end. There are two marked trails, the (south) Horseshoe Crab Trail, and the (north) Snook Trail. As typical with saltwater paddling, this is mangrove all around - the trails wind around and through mangrove islands. Paddling through the mangrove tunnels was fun (see our video, link below). The markers are sometimes hard to see, so a GPS or map back-up can be useful.

Horseshoe Crab Trail and Cockroach Bay

On the Snook Trail, mangrove tunnels

See a video on our Facebook page:
Mangrove tunnel along Snook Trail (88 sec.)

About Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve protects portions of the Little Manatee River and its estuaries. Past the point where the river enters Tampa Bay, it extends southwest past Cockroach Bay to the Manatee County Line. Designated as Outstanding Florida Water, the preserve is one of the most unspoiled areas in Florida, protecting over 8,000 acres with 4,500 acres of submerged lands. The estuary provides a nursery for marine life and is home to many water and shorebirds.

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