Biking and Hiking Delight at Mabry Carlton Reserve Park
If you are local or just visiting the area, you must check out two highly parks along Border Road. If taking I-75, you get off at the Jacaranda exit. Depending if your from the south or north, you turn onto Jacaranda until reaching Border Road and turn right. After a few miles, the first of two great parks is on the left (if going east): Sleeping Turtles Preserve North will be on your left just before the bridge going over the Myakka River. This park is a small version of Carolton, just down the same road. It offers short hiking\biking trails along the river guaranteed to satisfy. Be prepared to see gators and other wildlife.
Once done, go east on Border Road until you reach a stop sign. Turn left and continue until you see the Mabry Carolton Reserve Park sign. The Go Bold trail in right off the parking lot (on the map it is RED). Be prepared, as the trail is narrow and you will be going through wilderness with tall pine trees protecting you from the sun. You could encounter a variety of Florida wildlife: turkey, bobcat, hog, maybe even a panther or bear. No doubt possums and raccoons are about. You can encounter these animals just anywhere in this park because it is all wilderness and trails for bikers, hikers and horses.
Now, for bikers or hikers liking a more open air no jungle environment, your best bet is to follow the BLUE path on the map leading to the Powerline shell surface trail (Post 10) This is a great bike path in a straight line for several miles for mountain bikes only. It is road for utility trucks etc. but seldom used. You will pass many areas of swamp and it is likely you will see at least one gator. The road is elevated about the swamp but be vigilant as you cruise. Some bikers have stumbled onto a gator on the road, deer and hogs. Most of the time, they run away.
As you go down the Powerline road, you can go deeper in to park at Post 33, known as the Venice Arcadia Grade, and continue into the rear areas where most don't go. Should you venture off this road onto any other paths posted, the trail suddenly changes into something like the "Go Bold" trail. From the parking lot to the end of the Powerline road, Post 66, is about 7 miles, so round trip is a good run at 14 miles. Unlike the trails in and around the parking area which are under tall trees, there is nothing like that along the Powerline road, it's all in the sun.
Even the Go Bold trail is a rough 9 mile trek. Speed is not easy on some of it and hikers use it. The back country trails total a whopping 100 miles, depending on which ones you go on. In fact, you can even reach the Myakka River State Park from here by using the Myakka Wilderness Trail.
Campsites are located at Post 55 along the river (about 4 miles from the parking lot) or way outback at Windy Sawgrass (Post 45).
There is a reason why bikers and hikers rate this very highly. Enjoy!