Monday, December 6, 2021

Ever Heard of Oscar Scherer State Park? It’s a Gem!

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry | Spanish moss adds to the charm of the park as it cascades from the massive oak trees.

A glimpse into the environment at Oscar Scherer State Park.

The Oscar Scherer State Park is another Florida Park where you can be outside, camp, and enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature without a mask. It’s not that far away from Collier County, but far enough to appreciate the diversity and differences of the forests and wetlands from Collier’s; not to mention the abundance of varied birdlife. Plus, it’s between Sarasota and Venice—an easy drive. 

If you enjoy tent camping or prefer your familiar camper, you’ll find the camping spaces large with lots of Live Oak trees, foliage, Spanish moss, and privacy so you can build your fire, roast marshmallows and have quality time with family or friends away from the challenges of COVID-19. In fact, the silence in the park embraces and calms you 

Exploring new parks is fun. As you hike, your eyes drift to the skies, bushes, flatlands and towering trees that hem the sides of the waterways and you become more alert to the wildlife in the silence. The word ethereal comes to mind. 

If you’d like a break in your camping adventure, you can take a quick drive to the Venice Beaches, enjoy the surf and look for sharks’ teeth from millions of years ago that wash up on the beach. Yes, we found some! Some people strain the sand offshore in a colander or plastic basket to find them, but our finds were brought in gently by the surf. 

Lovely, generous people do countless positive deeds for the good of all in our country and that how Oscar Scherer State Park was created. When Elsa Scherer Burrows died, her will designated her 462 acres to be a park named after the memory of her father, Oscar Scherer. It took another year before the park was open to guests. 

Another generous person, Jon Thaxton, who was enamored with and dedicated to protecting the Florida ScrubJay territory, added 922 acres from the Palmer Ranch parcel to the original acreage, which expanded the park to 1384 acres. Natural park supporter, Lee Wetherington, generously added 166 acres to the park, bringing the total acreage to 1650. Out of their contributions, we now have a beautiful park with natural vegetation and room to explore our forests, fields and freshwater rivers. 

The paths are wide and well-marked, not to mention the beautiful scenery along the way.

The things I loved about this park: the non-pretentious sign that most people wouldn’t notice, the fee to camp or to visit friends at a campsite is modest, the giant oak trees that bordered the waterways, the variety of trails that revealed the scrubby flatlands that Lee Wetherington wanted to protect, the marshy areas with different foliage, the critters that you see along the way if quiet. One of the most surprising was a caterpillar that moved at such a fast pace, it was hard to keep up with it. They fairly ran across the hiking trail and seemed to be the most unlikely examples of the caterpillar family! 

There are several trails that are marked and there is a map to help you on your explorations. There is also a 3-acre freshwater lake with warning sign for no swimming and the potential of gators. This lake has a lot of freshwater fish, so seems a likely place for gators. We didn’t see any, but swimming was not on our radar at all. 

You can kayak, canoe or paddleboard through the beautiful forests with some challenges, but they’re not insurmountable. I took some photos of people, and frankly, I was a bit jealous of the scenes they could see and that I couldn’t. Hmm Sounds like a good reason to go back and explore even more on the water. The craving to be outside is unrelenting, no matter what county or state you’re in. I believe distancing from others outside is far safer than being in large interior venues, Hopefully, one of the positives that comes from mandatary sequestration is the appreciation of the natural world and when we’re free to come and go without worry, there will be more participation in                                                                                                               our beautiful outdoor environments.


One response to “Ever Heard of Oscar Scherer State Park? It’s a Gem!”

  1. Cathy Brown says:

    One of the most beautiful parks in Florida. And don’t forget the Park Ranger and Staff! They really do make it feel like your home away from home! Always friendly, helpful and they keep the park immaculately clean!!! Such a pleasure to visit Oscar Scherer State Park!

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