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VAN 12-Park Tour Brooker Creek Preserve

7 January 2023

It was a cold January morning in Florida when the VAN team gathered for the first park tour of the VAN 12-Park Tour event for 2023. The team had spent the prior evening cutting up fruit, icing down water, and looking forward to who they might meet the following day. 

This VAN signature event was designed to bring Tampa Bay parks into the spotlight while providing a way to meet new people and spend time with old friends. How many of us live in this great area and need to take advantage of all it offers? With the VAN 12-Park Tour, we can all do something fun and healthy without spending a lot of money. Outside of potential park fees, this event is free for anyone who wants to join. 

Brooker Creek Preserve was the first park on our list and didn’t disappoint.

Time Together

There were business owners, veterans, and other friends for the event that started with a quick Tai Chi session headed by our friend Krisula with Krisula’s Walking Tours of Tarpon Springs. After the warm-up, we headed out on one of the six trails and paths at the park. We chose the Flatwoods Trail, a 1.5-mile loop through forested wetlands and pine flatwoods. The journey began on an elevated boardwalk as we passed by the Environmental Education Center, which was bustling with its own tour event.

Soon, we would exit the boardwalk and continue our journey along the pathways of Wilderness Trail, where we were blessed to witness a 4-point buck in his natural habitat. The Buck showed no fear as we gingerly approached and pulled out our phones to capture his beauty. Our team ran into a few water roadblocks at a few points along the trail. Luckily, we had a few veterans who knew how to improvise and lead the team around the obstructions. 

Along the journey, we stopped at the park’s oak hammocks which offered incredible views and allowed us to observe a wide array of birds taking in the day. As we looped back and began our trek back to the parking lot, we veered off to the Eagle nest, hoping to spot an American Bald Eagle. We were unsuccessful in catching a glimpse of the great bird this trip; we will have to return and try again. 

Favorite Things

  1. The trail walk was extraordinarily peaceful and full of opportunities to witness nature and creatures in their natural habitat. Our chance to see the Buck was priceless. 
  2.  The elevated boardwalk was well-maintained, and the trails were wide enough for our group to walk together comfortably. 
  3. We loved the areas that let us stop and take it all in. The oak hammocks are a nice touch and provide a place to take a break if you need one. 
  4. The park was free! No charge for parking. We love free. 

Not-So Favorite Things

  1. There was some construction going on, so the park was utilizing port-a-potties. They were clean, though. 
  2. You can’t bring your dogs to Brooker Creek Preserve. We are sure they have good reasons, but we love parks that welcome dogs. 
  3. We learned a good lesson: Always check the sun’s location when planning which direction to walk!

Why We Would Go Back

There are four different trails at Brooker Creek Preserve. The trail we chose was 1.5 miles, and it was long enough for our purposes that day, but we would love to invest more time and explore the longer trails. The park offers a more challenging loop of 2.8 miles and, for the serious hiker, a 4-mile loop estimated to take between 2.5 and 3.5 hours to complete.

Be sure to visit the VAN 12-Park Tour schedule and plan to join the team for future tours throughout Tampa Bay. We will explore parks in Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough Counties on the first Saturday of each month. At each tour, VAN will provide “I Was There” tickets that participants can collect in exchange for great prizes at our Tour Finale in December. Participants who tour four or more parks with us in 2023 will receive a special event medal and T-Shirt in December!

Join Us Next Time

We hope to see you at our next park tour, which will be at Morris Bridge Conservation Park in Hillsborough County, off Morris Bridge Road in Thonotosassa. It will be a cold one, but Krisula will get us warmed up! 

VAN 12-Park Tour Schedule is on our Website! Click HERE to ACCESS

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