The Gilley Creek Tract protects the main branch of Gilley Creek, which is one of the main tributaries of the Manatee River. The creek flows into Lake Manatee, which serves as the primary drinking water source for Manatee County.
Formerly a cattle ranch and farm with row crops that had been converted to pasture, hardwood hammocks are still found along the creek channels and wetlands. Undisturbed areas of native habitats thrive in a natural condition, with regular reoccurrence of fire through the prescribed burn program, providing an example of historic Florida palmetto prairie, pine flatwoods and scrubby flatwoods communities.
Restoration efforts focus on reestablishing scrub habitats in fallow agricultural fields that will expand an existing population of the Florida scrub-jay, currently listed as threatened in the state and in the U.S., as well as a host of other species that depend on scrub communities.
The hydrology of the site will also be restored to the extent possible. These efforts will enhance the property’s natural communities and improve water quality.
- Short sections of trails may go through area leased for cattle grazing. Exercise caution in these areas. Stay on marked trail at all times and remember that cattle serve a management function on the property and should not be disturbed.
- Loop trails on 12 miles of old roads.
- Use only marked trails.
- Florida law requires bicyclists under 16 to wear helmets.
- 12 miles of marked interior roads.
- Riders are required to stay on marked trails.
- Each rider must carry proof of horse’s current negative Coggins test.
- Florida law requires equestrians under 16 to wear helmets.
- Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for license requirements.
- 12 miles of multiuse trails.
- Prepare for wet hiking; some trails are excessively wet during certain times of year.
Access and Parking
Restrooms and Water
- Portable toilet available at main entrance.
- No water available.