Jelks Preserve is a 600-acre nature preserve along the Myakka River near Venice, FL and Myakka River state park. It has about eight miles of loop trails through the river bottoms along along a lengthy stretch of river. The trail is mostly wide and grassy and easily accessible for most hikers.
The trail loops through huge oak trees that are completely overgrown with some kind of mossy plant we couldn’t identify. It looked really cool, but we doubt it’s very good for the trees! It was really nice to hike in some of the shady sections though, it was a little over 90 when we visited.
If you enter the park on the Northwest near the parking lot, there is a really great unmarked trail immediately to your left that follows an unnamed creek that runs into the Myakka River. It’s a really great short hike of 1/2 a mile or so that winds along the creek bed through some really lush overgrowth. We felt like we were hiking in the Amazon or something.
After our hike we stopped just down the road at Snook Haven (https://www.snookhaven.com/), a restaurant/bar/marina just down the road. Snook Haven is a really great look back into old Florida with a deck out over the river, great food, and canoe and kayak rentals on the Myakka River. It’s worth a stop for good barbecue, draft beers, and Florida specialties like gator bites and catfish nuggets.