Weedon Island Preserve
|Weedon Island Preserve|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
View of the preserve from top of observation tower
|Location||Pinellas County, Florida, USA|
|Nearest city||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Established||June 13, 1972|
|Governing body||Pinellas County Park Department|
Weedon Island Preserve
|NRHP Reference #||72000347|
The Weedon Island Preserve is a 3,190 acre natural area situated along the western shore of Tampa Bay, and located on 1800 Weedon Drive NE. St. Petersburg, Florida, United States. It is predominately an estuarine preserve composed of upland and aquatic ecosystems such as mangrove forests, pine/scrubby flatwoods, and maritime hammock, and is home to a variety of native wildlife. The preserve is also a designated archaeological area with several shell mounds identified on the property that provide evidence of early peoples who inhabited the land for thousands of years.
On June 13, 1972, Weedon Island Preserve was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In 1974 the state of Florida purchased Weedon Island and its surrounding islands and it officially opened for public use in December 1980. In 1993, the state created a lease agreement with Pinellas County to manage and maintain the preserve. The county's Department of Parks and Conservation Resources presently manages the area.
Weedon Island Preserve's name is derived from Tampa doctor and amateur archaeologist, Leslie Washington Weedon.
The preserve offers a total of 4.7 miles of nature trails for hiking with 2 miles out of the total as boardwalks and paved trails that are ADA accessible, and the remaining 2.7 miles as natural trail loops. The 3,000 foot Tower Boardwalk trail leads visitors to a 45-foot tall observation tower, the tallest of its kind in Pinellas County. With favorable weather conditions, one can see much of the Preserve and Tampa Bay from this tower, as well as the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. Three additional observation platforms along the trails offer opportunities for bird and wildlife viewing, and are ideal for photography.
In addition to hiking, the preserve maintains a 4-mile, self-guided canoeing/kayaking loop called the South Paddling Trail. The path weaves through mangrove tunnels within the preserve and has access points to the bay. Visitors interested in exploring the paddling trail may bring their own vessels or they may rent from the onsite outfitter, Sweetwater Kayaks.
Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center
The Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center opened in the fall of 2002 through the support of the Friends of Weedon Island and is run by Pinellas County. The Center focuses on the natural, cultural and archaeological history of the preserve. The Exhibit Hall features interactive displays on the unique wildlife and habitats found on Weedon Island, and the ancient and present-day history of the preserve. Part of the collection of Native American artifacts from Weedon Island has been digitized and is available online as a virtual tour.
The most recent addition to the Center is a 40 feet (12 m) dugout canoe that was found in the Weedon Island Preserve that is believed to be a Manasotan artifact. It estimated to be 1,100 years old.
Programs and Events
Pinellas county staff and UF/IFAS Extension agents provide a wide variety of educational programs and events for the general public that are family-friendly and often free of charge. Monthly programs may include guided hikes, archaeology classes, speaker series, photography or birding meet ups, and environmental sustainability workshops. Program registration and an updated list of current offerings are available through the preserve's Eventbrite page.
Hours of Operations
The Preserve is open seven days a week, from dawn to dusk. The Cultural and Natural History Center is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm, and on Sundays from 11:00am to 4:00pm.
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- http://www.weedonislandcenter.org/ Weedon Island Center, accessed January 21, 2008
- "1,100-Year-Old Prehistoric Canoe Found in Pinellas County, Florida" (PDF). Retrieved 1 January 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Weedon Island Preserve.|
- Weedon Island Preserve official site
- Milanich, Jerald T., Ann S. Cordell and Vernon J. Knig. (1997) Archaeology of Northern Florida, A.D. 200-900: The McKeithen Weeden Island Culture University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1538-3
- Pinellas County listings at National Register of Historic Places
- Florida's Office of Cultural and Historical Programs