Emerson Point Preserve

Image Emerson Point Preserve

Emerson Point has a special location at the mouth of the Manatee River where it meets Lower Tampa Bay. Explore the preserve's unique history and wander the shady trails through the tropical hammock.

Emerson Point Preserve is a 365 acre preserve located at the tip of Snead Island in western Palmetto. At Emerson Point, visitors can take in the beauty of Florida's wildlife and native plant communities while exploring both prehistoric and historic sites.

Historical resources include the Portavant Temple Mound, southwest Florida's largest Native American Temple Mound, and the surrounding midden complex. A Welcome/Ranger Station is open Friday and Saturday for visitors to the preserve.

Multi-use trails and boardwalks are aligned so that the natural habitat and cultural resources will be protected. There are two small picnic shelters available for small gatherings. There is also a large ten table picnic shelter available for rental/reservation. A canoe/kayak launch allows access to the tidal canals and Terra Ceia Bay.


Things to Do

Observation Tower at Emerson Point Preserve
Observation Tower at Emerson Point Preserve

The development and implementation elements of recreation programs appropriate for the Emerson Point Preserve property were determined by requesting input from area conservation groups, including information from the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund, Division of State Lands, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department, the State Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Greenways and Trails, Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program, Florida Division of Historic Resources, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and a local archeologist, Bill Burger.  Input was analyzed by the Board-appointed citizens of the Environmental Lands Management and Acquisition Advisory Committee, coordinated by staff liaisons from the various County departments.  The recreation programs were presented to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners and approved through a detailed management plan. 

The Emerson Point Preserve recreation plan, which combines all recreational uses on the property, includes the following elements:

  • Hiking and nature trails
  • Kayak/canoeing trails and launch
  • Environmental education
  • Non-motorized bicycle trails
  • Rollerblading
  • Managed fishing
  • Picnic areas (two large and two small pavilions)
  • Wildlife viewing areas
  • Observation tower

Hiking:  Available on all trails.


Accessibility: There is one paved trail that begins at the entrance of Emerson Point Preserve, traverses the entire preserve ending at the Point.  The North and South Restoration Trails are packed shell.  Be aware: Any area not on a designated trail may have a very soft surface.


Kayak/Canoeing: There are two places to launch within the preserve.  The first is located approximately 6/10 of a mile from the entrance.  This launch has a wooden dock and the Blueway Trail meanders through mangrove tunnels until you reach Terra Ceia Bay.  The second launch site is the beach located at the western end of the preserve.  The launch at this site provides access to the mouth of the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay.


Bicycling:  Available on all trails except the Terra Ceia Trail and the Portavant Mound Trail. 


Rollerblading: Available only on the paved trail.


Fishing:  Available from the shoreline along the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay.  Please be kind to the vegetation when fishing from shore within the preserve.  NOTE: Fishing is only permitted along the perimeter of the preserve and subject to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations.


Picnicking:  Available at the various sites throughout the preserve on a first-come-first-serve basis. 


Picnic Pavilion: Three locations are available by reservation or on a first-come-first-serve basis.  You can reserve a pavilion online or by calling 941-742-5923.


Wildlife Viewing:  A variety of birds and wildlife can be seen throughout the preserve in the restored native ecosystems.


Getting There


Emerson Address:         Map
5801 17th Street West
Palmetto, FL 34221


Driving Directions:

  • From Central Manatee County:Take U.S. 301 north over the DeSoto Bridge. Bear right and follow the sign for North 301 to I-75/Ellenton. Take an immediate left at the light and continue onto 10th Street West. Stay on this road, heading west toward Snead Island. After crossing the bridge, take the immediate right (across from the Yacht Club). Turn left at the first stop sign and drive west into Emerson Point Preserve. Parking is available at the Temple Mound, Observation Tower, Canoe Launch, and Point Parking lots.
  • From I-75:  Take I-75 to exit 224. After exiting, head west on U.S. 301. Instead of turning on U.S. 301, continue west on 10th Street West. Follow the directions listed above in to Emerson Point Preserve.


Contact Information

 Preserve open daily. Hours vary by season: OPEN CLOSE
DECEMBER 2017 ..... NO CHANGE 7:00AM 6:00PM
MONDAY APRIL gTH 2018 7:00AM 8:00PM
FRIDAY MAY 18TH 2018 6:30AM 8:30PM
JUNE 2018 ... NO CHANGE 6:30AM 8:30PM
FRIDAY JULY 27TH 2018 7:00AM 8:30PM
FRIDAY AUGUST 24TH 2018 7:00AM 8:00PM

Ranger/Welcome Station Hours

Fridays: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. *
Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. *

Additional times vary according to season
* Center is staffed by volunteers; hours subject to volunteer availability


Entrance into Emerson Point Preserve is free to the public.

Phone: (941) 721-6885
Fax: (941) 721-2231