Take a tour of Rye Preserve, one of Manatee County's 'hidden gems'

Old Florida is alive and well at the Rye Preserve, but it's not far. The 145-acre property is located just northwest of the Lake Manatee Dam in Parrish. 

“Rye Preserve is one of several preserves in Manatee County that seeks to hold on to old Florida,” explained Alyssa Vinson of the Manatee County Extension Office. “As we have a lot of new development occurring in our area, we have a lot of pocket habitats that we’re trying to maintain and keep in their natural state.”

The preserve's trail system leads visitors through four distinctive ecosystems, including sand pine scrub, xeric oak scrub, oak hammocks, and the river community.

Hikers can see a variety of interesting creatures, including the rare gopher tortoise and Florida scrub jay. 

Kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, and even camping are among the other activities available at the preserve.

“We really focus on Florida for the coast. We love our marine resources; we love our beaches. But we forget that there’s a whole center part of the state that is really unique and really valuable,” Vinson added.

Rye Preserve is also home to a piece of Manatee County's early pioneer history. Visitors can view the Rye Family Cemetery, the last remaining reminder of the old Rye River community, which  dates back to the post-Civil War era.

“It really is one of those hidden gems,” Vinson added.

Rye Preserve is open daily, sunrise to sunset.

LOCATION: 905 Rye Wilderness Trail, Parrish, FL 34219

LINK: Visit the park’s website for more info