Hiking and Nature Trails Worth Visiting in Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is a hidden gem of the Sunshine State that maintains that “Old Florida” feel that so many cities have lost. Here, you’ll find quaint shops, mouthwatering restaurants, stunning beaches, and fascinating historical sites. As you’re exploring, you’ll have to spend some time on the nature trails in Anna Maria Island! Hiking these nature trails is a great way to get outside, discover local wildlife, and truly become one with your surroundings.

birds in the water
Photo from Unsplash

Leffis Key Preserve

Leffis Key Preserve was once overgrown with plants not native to the island, but thanks to the efforts of the local government and private individuals, it has now been transformed into a nationally significant estuary. Head up to the 26-foot high hill in the middle of the restored area, where you can have a 360-degree view of the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay.

Throughout the Preserve, you’ll find convenient footpaths with benches and 1,500 feet of boardwalks that take you through the mangrove forest. Platforms have been strategically placed to give you the best possible view of the plant and animal life around you. You can visit Leffis Key Preserve daily from 8 a.m. until sunset.

Neal Preserve

woman hiking in anna maria island

Neal Preserve is home to some of the best Anna Maria nature trails, with more than 120 acres for you to discover. Located on the mainland in nearby Bradenton, Neal Preserve is more than just a remarkable natural site – it also has a lot of historical significance. The preserve is home to reconstructed burial mounds, initially built by the Native Americans from 3000 BC to 1400 AD.

As you explore, you’ll come across the 20-foot tall observation tower, boardwalks, and shell trails. Bird watching is a popular hobby here as well, so make sure you bring your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled! Neal Preserve welcomes visitors every day from sunrise to sunset.

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Perico Preserve

What was once farmland, is now a stunning mix of habitats. At Perico Preserve, you’ll find the coastal wetlands native to the region but you’ll also stumble upon upland areas that call back to the origins of coastal Manatee County and carefully planned scrub hills. This area is especially interesting as it is the first preserve to be fully and explicitly conceptualized as a bird sanctuary.

As you can probably imagine, you’ll see tons of birds while you’re hiking here. Since there are so many delicate bird species here, you will be asked to leave any bikes behind in certain key areas. The preserve also does not welcome pets except for service dogs. This area is by far one of the most unique spots for Anna Maria hiking. Perico Preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Robinson Preserve

Located in northwest Bradenton, Robinson Preserve is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Anna Maria Island and the surrounding area. The preserve has recently been expanded and now holds more than 650 acres of former agricultural lands, tidal marsh, and preserved mangrove. You can do just about any outdoor activity here, from fishing to wildlife viewing to kayaking and, of course, hiking!

Be sure to check out the recently acquired “Expansion” while you’re there, including incredible attractions like a 2.5k pedestrian-only trail, picnic areas, restrooms, and several educational spaces. You can honestly spend an entire day exploring everything Robinson Preserve has to offer! The preserve is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.

Hiking in Anna Maria Island is a great way to see the sites and spend some quality time outdoors with the ones you love most. At the end of a long day of hiking, come relax in one of our Anna Maria Island rentals. Contact us today to learn more!