It's no secret that Florida is home to some absolutely gorgeous landscapes. From lush tropical trails to miniature rainforests and expanses of crystal-like sugar sands against turquoise blue waters, the variety of views you can soak up here are endlessly enchanting. Adding to that enchantment at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park near Tampa are miles of hiking and biking trails that have some hidden magical friends waiting for you to find them.

Located in New Port Richey, Jay B. Starkey offers 20 miles of single-track trails for you to get lost in nature. Completely free to visit, you'll be able to immerse yourself in tunnels of trees and escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day.

But it's just off the trailhead of parking lot 10 that will transport you into a fairy tale, where you'll find the Gnome Zone β€” a two-mile series of trails that's filled with this certain magical friend.

Narcity reached out to Gnome Zone organizers, husband and wife duo Mark Hardies and Diane Prekup, who say the zone was inspired by a kids skills area they saw called Gnomewood.

It took over a year for Hardies and Prekup to get the Gnome Zone approved at the park, but they were finally able to bring the vision to life in 2018. It was an instant hit with locals.

While the area is intended to help children work on their biking skills, Prekup says that many adults like to use it as a warm-up before taking to Jay B. Starkey's other meandering miles of forest trails.

It includes obstacles like rollover logs, skinny rails for balance practice, a drop with two skill levels, a pump track, and several pathways for practice following trail signs. They'll usually host Skills Day events here for the kiddos, but it's since been put on hold.

It's during these events that more gnomes are placed out on the trail; Prekup told Narcity that they tend to go missing if left out throughout the year. But the Gnome Zone isn't the only place you can find these garden pals.

According to Prekup, a few more secret gnomes are tucked away on some of the other lesser trekked trails at the wilderness park to be found year-round.

Their exact locations are a secret, waiting for adventurers to stumble upon them as they wander through the lush landscape.

Are you ready to take to the fairy tale trails and find them yourself?

Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park

Address: 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey, FL

Why You Need To Go: A great place to hike, bike, and immerse yourself in nature while also enjoying a little scavenger hunt. During events, the Gnome Zone trail is filled with gnomes, while the park's 20 miles of trails also have a few hidden throughout. Can you find them?


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment and obey any local laws.


 

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