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Reported: Feb. 2013

Cockroach Bay - Unspoiled Paddling Along Tampa Bay

Cockroach Bay can be reached from Cockroach Bay Road off US41 south of Ruskin, FL. Two marked paddling trails start near the boat ramp at the end of  the road - launch from the beach next to the ramp, or look for the breaks along the road approaching the ramp. (Note: This is a very popular area, especially in the summer, and parking can be hard to find.) The trails wind around and through mangrove islands and tunnels, the markers are sometimes hard to see so a GPS or good map is recommended. Cockroach Bay (the name may derive from early explorers seeing many horseshoe crabs -"cockroaches of the sea" - in the area) can be choppy when windy. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: South trail 5 miles, north trail 2 miles.
Location: Hillsborough County
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: Yes.
Launch points: Boat ramp, Cockroach Bay Road (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: See links in sidebar to the right
Nearby points of interest: Little Manatee River State Park, Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve comprises portions of the Little Manatee River to the US 301 bridge; past the point where the river enters Tampa Bay, it extends southwest past Cockroach Bay to the Manatee County Line. Designated as Outstanding Florida Water, the preserve is one of the most unspoiled areas in Florida, protecting over 8,000 acres with 4,500 acres of submerged lands. The estuary provides a nursery for marine life and is home to many water and shorebirds.

Paddling at Cockroach Bay
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
We paddled on the paddling trails at Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve launching off Cockroach Bay Road approaching the boat launch. There are two marked trails, the south or Horseshoe Crab Trail, and the north or Snook Trail. As typical with saltwater paddling, there was mangrove all around though paddling through the mangrove tunnels was fun (see our video). Some of the markers were hard to see and you can get lost - a good map and GPS are recommended.
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Road to boat ramp; look for launch spots along the road Launch off Cockroach Bay Road Boat ramp Launching from beach next to the ramp
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On the Horseshoe Crab Trail and Cockroach Bay
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On the Snook Trail, mangrove tunnels

See a video of paddling at Cockroach Bay on our Facebook page

- Florida State Parks - Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park
- Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection - Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve
- Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection - Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve (pdf)

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