The T Mabry Carlton Reserve was initially purchased in the early 1980’s as a watershed to provide drinking water for Sarasota County. Areas not specifically setup as well field have been preserved and saved for recreation and nature protection. It’s location adjacent to the Myakka River makes it a jewel of recreation opportunities situated between the Myakka River State Park to the north and Deer Prairie Creek to the south.
The preserve consists of 24,500 acres of diverse woodland featuring pine flatwoods, seasonal wetlands, dry prairie, and oak hammock. Over 5 miles of the reserve borders the Myakka River directly. The remainder includes over 80 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Most all trails are marked or blazed with identifying routes. Portions of some trails cross over creek or slough ares that require water crossing year-round. Other portions of trails may become encroached by wetlands in seasonal rainy season periods. There is also a 12 mile long “Myakka Island Wilderness Trail” through the reserve that connects Deer Prairie Creek to the Myakka River State Park. Facilities are limited to picnic areas and a visitors hut/cabin at the entrance to the reserve. You will need to pack in any and all supplies, water, etc that you will need on your hike.
There is a canoe & kayak launch at the south side of the reserve where Border Rd. crosses the Myakka River. It’s located on the east side of the Myakka River on the North side of Border Rd. A newly created entryway there is accessible without having to get an unlock code for the gates (those who have used it in the past have memorized that code still haven’t you?)
Reserve hours are seasonally adjusted to 7:30am to 8pm in summer, and 7:30 to 6pm in winter to coincide with daylight hours.