At over 21,000 acres, the Duette Preserve is the largest Preserve in the County system. It is located in the eastern part of the County and contains the headwaters of Manatee River.
Duette Preserve is almost entirely contained within the northeastern portion of the Lake Manatee Watershed. This watershed is the primary basin within Manatee County. The Manatee River and its chief tributary, the Braden River, serve as the principal sources of water supply for Manatee and Sarasota counties including the municipalities of Bradenton, Palmetto, Longboat Key, Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. The Duette Preserve site is located in the area of the County with the highest quality and most productive, deep groundwater Floridan Aquifer.
Bodies of water and/or wetlands existing on the property include both the north and east forks of the Manatee River, numerous streams and creeks, wet weather ponds, sloughs, and Clearwater Lake, which can be found in the extreme southeastern corner of the property just east of Bear Bay Road at Trail 1.
The area is rich in both cultural, historic, and natural resources, including homestead sites and a mound site called Carruthers Mound. Many diverse species of game and non-game animals can be found on Duette Preserve, including species of special concern such as the burrowing owl, snowy egret, white ibis, gopher tortoise, and at least two endangered/threatened species, the Florida scrub jay and the eastern indigo snake.
Duette Preserve is host to many of the native plant communities of Manatee County, providing protection and preservation of pine flatwoods, hardwood swamps, xeric oak scrub, depression marsh, and vast dry prairie.
Duette Preserve is a managed landscape. You will see areas that are being restored to a native condition with regular applications of prescribed fire. Replicating historic and repetitive ground cover fire is an important tool used by staff to perpetuate native species, many of which depend on fire for survival and reproduction. Other areas within the preserve are managed using mechanical treatment. Cattle grazing, under the control of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, is also used in former Bahia grass pasture areas.
Things to Do
The development and implementation elements of recreation programs appropriate for the Duette watershed property were determined by requesting input from 14 area conservation groups, including information from the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department, the Public Services Department, the Environmental Action Commission, the Agricultural and Resource Conservation Department, the Planning, Permitting, and Inspections Department, the Nature Conservancy, the State Department of Agriculture, the Division of Forestry, the State Department of Environmental Protection, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Input was analyzed by the Board-appointed citizens' Environmental Lands Management and Acquisition Advisory Committee, coordinated by staff liaisons from the various County departments.
Duette Preserve’s recreation plan, which combines all recreational uses on the property, includes the following elements:
- Hiking and nature trails
- Environmental education
- Managed fishing
- Managed hunting
- Picnic areas and pavilions
- Horseback riding trails
- Non-motorized bicycle trails
Picnicking: Available at the picnic shelter and at various sites throughout the preserve on a reservation basis. Reservations must be made two weeks in advance of the requested date.
Picnic Pavilion: Available by reservation or on a first-come-first-serve basis. You can reserve a pavilion online or by calling 941-742-5923.
Horseback Riding: Allowed on designated riding trails. Horses are not provided. Proof of a negative Coggins Test must be available upon request for each horse. Designated horse staging areas are provided.
Bicycling: Allowed on designated trails only.
Hiking: Available on all trails.
Fishing: Available throughout the preserve, subject to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations.
Wildlife Viewing: A variety of birds and wildlife can be seen throughout the preserve in a variety of native ecosystems
Duette Address: Map to Check Station
2649 Rawls Road
Duette, FL 34251
- From I-75: Take I-75 to exit 220B (State Road 64 exit). After exiting, head east on State Road 64 until you reach Duette Road (approximately 25 miles). Turn left, heading north. Turn left onto Rawls Road (6 miles from State Road 64) and drive into the preserve.
- From State Road 62: Take State Road 62 east to Duette Road. Turn right on Duette Road and continue south. Turn right onto Rawls Road and drive into the preserve.
Parking for access is available at two different locations. One is at Bear Bay Road. The second is off of Duette Road at Trail One.
Contact Information and Hours of Operation
Sunday - Saturday
8:00 a.m. to sunset
Open daily to pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian traffic.
11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Office open to allow vehicle traffic into the preserve. Fee for entry (to vehicles only) $3 plus tax per vehicle.
|Weekend Closings||Duette Preserve is closed to visitors during Hunt Program Weekends. Hunt Weekend Calendar|