The suburban city of New Port Richey may not be the first place to come to mind when thinking of a scenic natural oasis to get away from it all, but that’s exactly what’s hiding within it. A perfect Florida hiking trail near Tampa, the James E. Grey Preserve offers the perfect nature getaway as it follows the Pithlachascotee River with winding boardwalk paths. It'll definitely have you feeling like you're in a faraway jungle paradise. 

A perfect hike for beginners and seasoned explorers, Grey Preserve encompasses 80 acres along the Cotee River. It’s completely surrounded by urbanization, making it a true local hidden gem.

The river itself is navigable by kayak and makes for a perfect place to paddle. The two miles of nature trails winding through the preserve include a looping trail that passes over an isolated bayou, giving wanderers a chance to glimpse an otter or gator. 

Dogs and bikes are not permitted along the trails, so you’ll be hoofing it through the 1.3 miles-long loop by yourself or with a friend. The route hugs the shoreline of the river, giving guests the perfect balance of water and forest to admire.

With over 150 bird species, there’s plenty of beautiful fauna to keep an eye out for. It’s also an optimal spot for fishing.

The boardwalk guides you over the floodplain forest, framed by oak trees and dense palms.

You’ll follow it over two enchanting bridges, and there are several spots to stop and sit at to watch the herons and other water birds enjoy the river.

If you choose to break off the boardwalk and explore the gravel trails through the woods, you’ll find many pink rose-rush blooms, white tarflowers, and other Florida flora.

You may even spot gopher tortoise burrows and even a turtle itself.

Towards the end of the trail, one last unmarked pathway beckons you back to the cool canopy of the palms and the shore of the river. You can follow this route, and then retrace the way you first entered on the boardwalk.

For only 1.3 miles, there’s tons of natural beauty to see and enjoy at the James E. Grey Preserve.

For more awesome Florida nature, check out this list of best hiking trails in Orlando, and the most beautiful national parks in Florida.

James E. Grey Preserve

Price: Free

When: Dawn to dusk

Address: 6938 Plathe Rd., New Port Richey, FL

Why You Need To Go: This scenic nature oasis is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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.