Experiences & Amenities
The Trail head is at the corner of State Park Street and Sailboat Avenue. State Park Street is 0.6 miles north of Crystal River Mall on the west side of US 19. Drive west on State Park to the last corner, bear right (straight) down the gravel road and park across from gate. This seven mile trail runs through a variety of habitats. The visitor will be exposed to pine flatwoods, basin marsh, tidal marsh, wet hardwood hammocks and basin swamps. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under.
Heritage-Eco Boat Tours
The vessel "Monroe" (24 passengers) is the vehicle for a lower river Heritage-Eco Tour. The seasonal program "The Ancient River Dwellers" is provided weekly from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Boat tours will resume normal operations Wednesday September 5, 2018 and the last tour of the season will occur on Friday, May 25, 2018.
- Two boat tours depart from the Crystal River Preserve State Park administrative office Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available one hour prior to departure time. To support and sustain the operation of boat tours, a donation is requested of $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under, children 6 and under ride free. Sorry, no debit or credit cards at this time - cash or checks only.
- Tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis, one hour prior to departure time. Boat tours frequently SELL OUT quickly in the spring season. As it is not unusual to sell the entire boat in the first 10 minutes of ticket sales, we encourage travelers to arrive early.
Depart from the Crystal River Preserve State Park Visitor Center dock for a delightful sunset cruise and travel out to the Gulf for a spectacular sunset. These cruises are offered once a month during our summer schedule (June through September) and twice monthly October through May. Enjoy a fun and relaxing Friday evening retreat back to nature with refreshments and snacks provided. Tickets are available one month in advance at the Preserve office. The cost is $20 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under, age 6 and under are free. No credit or debit cards - check or cash only. Call ahead at (352) 228-6028 for dates and departure times.
The Crystal Cove day use fishing area, locally known as the "Mullet Hole," can be accessed by taking the first driveway, on the left, after entering the main gate on Sailboat Avenue. This fishing area extends along a canal system that eventually opens into the Crystal River. This area has restrooms but no picnic area or potable water. The entrance to the Redfish Hole is on the left, off of Fort Island Trail near mile marker #4. The fishing area is approximately a half mile walk from the entrance. This area is an old borrows pit that is tidally influenced. In the winter it is a good fishing spot for game species such as redfish, trout, snook, and flounder. There is no restroom or potable water available. Fishing is also available in the inlet across from the Visitor Center; restrooms are available.
- All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. A fishing license may be required. More information is available at the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Fishing in Florida.
- Eco-walk Trail is a 2 mile loop trail and has 11 Discovery Zones that offer Sensory Sensitivity tips to increase your outdoor skills. The trail begins in a wet prairie and travels along the swamp, edging a hammock. During the spring and fall, neo-tropical birds and hawks can be seen on their migration. Deer, turkey, and wading birds also frequent the area. The trailhead to the Eco-walk Trail is located at the intersection of North Tallahassee Road and Curtis Tool Road.
- Dixie Shores Trails. Entrances to the Dixie Shores Trails are located in the Dixie Shores subdivision off Ft. Island Trail (mile marker 2.5).
- Ft. Island Trail is off US Hwy. 19 in Crystal River. These trails are part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
- Lake Loop Trail is located on the right hand side of Dixie Shores Drive. The trail is approximately a mile long and winds around three man-made lakes.
- Hammock Island Trail is located on the left-hand side of Dixie Shores Drive and is approximately ¾ of a mile. This trail carries you from coastal scrub through a salt marsh and onto a hammock island.
- Churchhouse Hammock Boardwalk and Primitive Trails. The Boardwalk Trail is 1/3 mile in length. It begins in a Mesic Hammock that is being restored to transitional Pine Flatwoods. Habitat restoration is underway to encourage the return of species such as the Longleaf Pine, gopher tortoise, and fox squirrel. The Primitive Trail is 3/4 of a mile long, looping off the Boardwalk Trail and winding slowly out to a sawgrass marsh. Florida's *karst limestone topography can be seen at the surface, demonstrating the unique geology feature that typifies where springs find their beginnings. The entrance to the Churchhouse Hammock Boardwalk and Primitive Trail is located across the street from the Crystal River Mall on US Hwy. 19.
*Karst - An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.
Nature lovers and photographers will love the undisturbed islands, where everything from bald eagles to wood storks call the aquatic and upland environments of the preserve their home.
The Visitor Center houses 6 floor to ceiling dioramas depicting habitats in the park. Other displays include three 125-gallon aquariums, an ornate diamondback terrapin enclosure, and a touch table. The conference room is used for presentations, meetings and the daily showing of the film "Living Waters". Outside the Visitor Center there is a demonstration Xeriscape garden with a pond and waterfall. This Native Garden is one of the only examples in this area. A dock is also situated along the Crystal River and has several tables and benches where visitors can relax and enjoy the scenery.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Crystal River Preserve State Park. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and cannot be left unattended for more than a half-hour.
Canoe Kayak Launch
Paddle the Preserve and enjoy its exceptional natural beauty. There are two kayak/canoe launches in the park. One is located at the Mullet Hole, the other is located across from the Visitor Center.