This walk is the most popular short trail in Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, one of southwest Florida's largest state parks. It’s easy to find, is family-friendly, and has a well-defined footpath. Before the state went nuts with zip lines and canopy walks in nature attractions, this was the real deal: the first canopy walk in Florida, modeled after ones used by scientists in South American rain forests. It provides both an intimate look at the live oak canopy and a panorama of the Myakka River basin's two shallow lakes, which host a myriad of wetland creatures.
The hike actually involves two trails which create a short interpretive loop: original William S. Boylston Nature Trail and the newer Canopy Walk Trail built to access the Canopy Walk. Most people only walk up to this attraction instead of doing the full loop.
Here's what you need to do: From the parking area, turn to the right to walk through a hammock of large oaks and cabbage palms, the understory very open so you can see a willow marsh on the right as well as a pop ash marsh on the left. Walking through another slightly open understory spot, at a half-mile you spy a heart in the forest—on the right, the limbs of a live oak come together to create a heart-shaped keyhole. Almost immediately ahead you see the staircase for the Canopy Walk.