Many visitors make their way to Myakka State Park each year, just a short drive inland from Sarasota, Florida. The park is known for camping, hiking, fishing and kayaking. A great attraction which not many people attempt and which takes some planning is the expedition to a remote area of the park called ‘Deep Hole.’
The park has all the guided tours, airboat rides and typical river, lake and trail expeditions one might expect, but the deep hole expedition requires a permit and only 30 people per day are allowed access. The way the thirty are decided is first come, first serve. The park opens at 8am daily and one will find people in their cars lined up at the gate ready to get tickets. So even being in line doesn’t guarantee a spot, if there are already 30 people in front of you.
Once the park gate is opened you pay a $6.00 entry fee per vehicle, (it doesn’t matter how many persons you have inside). That is all you have to spend for this excursion or to enjoy any part of the park. After parking head into the welcome center and advise the attendant you’d like to hike or kayak the access to deep hole. Then you will be prompted to fill out a green information form with names in your party, contact information, license plate number and be given directions about how to get to the trail.
The green form needs to stay on your person as it is your permit for access. Once arrived at the parking spot, it is a 2.2 mile hike each way through Florida prairie on a wide dirt road. The walk itself is not challenging and the scenery is quite plain. Once you approach a canopy of oak trees the deep hole is in sight.
The area is completely wild and undeveloped, you can skirt around the edge of the lake at your own risk, seeing upwards of 100 alligators basking on the sunny shores or floating around in the water. Here you very much feel in the minority as the alligators, birds and other wildlife are busy about their day.
The lake you see is around 200 feet across and 130 feet deep, hence the name. The combination of wetlands, wildlife and the unspoiled wilderness is certainly worth the expedition, not to mention you will never as many alligators gathered around one spot as you see here comfortable in a habitat that’s truly theirs.