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Trip report: Oct. 2016

Fort DeSoto Park... Kayaking near St. Petersburg FL

Fort DeSoto Park is a Pinellas County park, covering over 1,100 acres on 5 keys south of St. Petersburg between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Excellent paddling is available at this popular park. Rentals are also available. Detailed map and photos below.

paddle Fort DeSoto Park, Tampa, kayak, canoe

Ft Desoto State Park


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Distance: 2.25 mile paddling trail, 10 miles around Mullet Key
Location: Pinellas County (St. Petersburg)
Difficulty: Easy on the paddling trail; more challenging if you venture onto Mullet Key Bayou, Tampa Bay or the Gulf
Tidal:
Yes
Launch points: At Topwater Kayak Outpost in Fort DeSoto Park; also, several launch points off the park road (See map)
Nearby points of interest: St. Petersburg, Dali Museum, Egmont Key

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Topwater Kayak Outpost (park concessionaire, rentals)

Fort DeSoto Park... Comments and Photos

Launching from the outfitter or from several access points along the road, the 2.25 mile marked trail (round trip) is an easy paddle. More experienced paddlers can venture out onto the Bay or Gulf, paddle to Egmont Key, or paddle the full 10 miles around Mullet Key. Here, on larger water, wind, currents and tide are more challenging. No shade, so plan accordingly. Wildlife included fish, many species of birds, sea turtles, manatees and dolphin.


Fort DeSoto Park Paddling Trail

We launched our kayaks from the access next to the outfitter and paddled around the marked trail to Mullet Key Bayou. The trail starts in a protected inlet (Soldier Hole) - an easy paddle - and follows a mangrove-lined creek for about a mile, where it rounds an island fronting the 4 sq. mile open lagoon (Mullet Key Bayou) and returns. Unlike the rest of the lagoon, this area typically offers good shelter from the wind.


Fort DeSoto Park

Fort DeSoto Park features include a 7-mile bike trail, nature trails, 7 miles of waterfront including several beaches ranked among the best in the country, campgrounds, playgrounds, snack bars and gift shops, a museum, picnicking, fishing piers, and a dog park. Restrooms and ample parking are available, plus a boat ramp, kayak and bike rentals, and the historic fort. A ferry runs to Egmont Key, a Florida State Park. Day fee applies.

 

Fort DeSoto Park History

Historic Fort DeSoto dates from 1898, built to defend Tampa Bay during the Spanish-American War but it never saw battle and was abandoned in 1923. The land was obtained by Pinellas County in 1948 and the park developed. Visitors at the fort can see the remaining battery and mortars.

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