Oscar Scherer State Park is a hidden oasis on the Florida Gulf Coast. Its over 1,300 acres are covered with pine and scrubby flatwoods, mangrove forests, ferns, and palms. Its water features include South Creek and two fresh water ponds, Lake Osprey and Big Lake. RV campers enjoy the shade that all the foliage provides in the warm summer months. Situated between the larger beach towns of Sarasota and Venice, visitors enjoy the feeling of being totally immersed in nature, while not being far from city amenities.
South Creek wanders through the state park and heads out into the intracoastal waterways along the Gulf Coast. Bring your kayak and have a relaxing afternoon paddle, or rent a kayak inside the park. The park is a haven for wildlife, such as gopher tortoises, bobcats, deer, and many types of birds, including the Florida Scrub-Jay, Sandhill Cranes, and Bald Eagles. The Legacy Trail is nearby and there are 15 miles of hiking trails to challenge all levels inside the park.
From bird watching and kayaking to hiking and fishing, Oscar Scherer State Park has something for everyone to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle. Idyllic weather conditions in Florida make this a perfect campground for RV and tent camping year-round.
Oscar Scherer State Park is conveniently located just off of Florida Interstate Hwy 41, two miles south of the town of Osprey. This highway is also referred to as the Tamiami Trail, as it connects the cities of Tampa and Miami. If you're driving on I-75, the directions are simple and easy to navigate in an RV by heading onto FL-681 for less than five miles to the park entrance.
The park covers over 1,300 acres with both paved and unpaved roads. The main road from the ranger station at the entrance is paved all the way to the Nature Center and Lake Osprey, where there are parking areas. There are also parking lots at four separate picnic pavilions, and at the South Creek Picnic Area, and very close to the boat launch and the fishing dock. While there is room to park your tow vehicle at your campsite, there are also two parking lots in the campground loop for extra vehicles.
Oscar Scherer State Park is accessible by public transportation from many locations in Osprey, FL via Bus Transit Line 17.
Oscar Scherer State Park features 104 RV and tent campsites. Six of them are pull-through and the rest are back-in sites. All of the sites have 30 or 50-amp electric hookups, as well as water hookups. There is a dump station at the campground. Generators can be used except during quiet hours.
Some of the campsites back up to South Creek, which means you can enjoy a riverfront view. Most campsites are also pet-friendly. Many campers enjoy that there is a lot of space and vegetation in between sites, which makes each site feel more private.
Other amenities include five clean bathhouses in the campground loop with hot showers and a nearby playground. There are also pavilions near the lake for group events. There is a laundry facility and you don't have to forfeit your internet with a wi-fi connection available at the nature center.
You can make your reservation for the Oscar Scherer State Park from one night up to 11 months in advance. The peak months fill up early, so book as soon as possible. There is one primitive group campsite, otherwise campsite occupancy is for eight or fewer people. You may stay in a campsite at this park for up to 14 consecutive nights.
This campground is busy and often full during the peak season, but if the campground is not completely booked online, there is a first-come, first-served option for any remaining open spots. However, reservations are highly recommended.
Birding enthusiasts will appreciate that Oscar Scherer is a refuge for Florida Scrub Jays. Walks along South Creek and Lake Osprey during the migration season will yield great opportunities to view these birds in their natural habitat. The scrub-jay population is monitored closely within the park and work is being done to help preserve this rare species. The Audubon Society provides guided bird walks with paid camping or state park entrance fees. Check with the park ranger for scheduled nature and bird walks.
Even if you're not a bird expert, you'll still want to bring your binoculars in your camper, as the park is also home to bald eagles. There is a protected bald eagle nest within the park, and naturalists on-hand can teach you about these amazing birds.
Once you park your camper, you'll want to get out into the water. There is an ADA compliant boat launch at Lake Osprey, where you can set out in your own boat or rent a kayak or canoe. Motorized boats are not allowed in the park. Guided ranger paddling tours are also available. South Creek is a slow-moving blackwater stream which will take you downstream into Blackburn Bay. The creek is a mixture of both freshwater and saltwater features. Wildlife along the creek include deer, otters, alligators, and various water birds.
The famous Legacy Trail runs right through Oscar Scherer State Park. This is a popular 11-mile trail that starts in Sarasota and ends at the historic Venice train depot. It's part of Florida's Rails to Trails program which transforms old railway lines into bike paths. The Legacy Trail is an ideal place for a morning run, a family bike ride, or just strolling along enjoying the fresh air.
There are six different hiking trails inside the Oscar Scherer State Park, covering a total of 15 miles, providing plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs outside the rig. The South Creek Nature Trail is an easy one-third-mile walk alongside the creek, and the Yellow Trail is a five-mile loop, starting and ending at Lake Osprey. You can enjoy the lush vegetation and many different types of wildlife and birds on the trails.
The park rangers and naturalists lead programs year-round for you to enjoy. There is a Junior Ranger program for kids to participate in. The nature center has interpretative exhibits for all ages to take advantage of. The naturalists highlight the unique ecosystems and wildlife that exist in the park. The Oscar Scherer park staff also lead weekly campfire programs, guided paddle trips, and critter crafts for kids.
You will never lack for things to do at this park as The Friends of Oscar Scherer Park organizes many different activities and programs throughout the year. There are live music concerts, pancake breakfasts, and ice cream sundae socials. On Fridays, you can show up for Movie Night and you can make new friends at Game Night or a group exercise class. The fun continues with Karaoke night, Coffee Socials, and Watercolor Fellowship. All of the programs are either free or have a nominal fee for registered campers or day-use state park visitors.