James E Grey preserve is not easy to find but certainly worth the hunt. This preserve lies at the west end of Plathe Road in New Port Richey, Florida. When you turn west onto this road, there will be a ‘No Outlet’ sign. Not only does the road end, you must drive through an open gate that gives it the appearance of a private drive. You will have every inclination to turn around..but don’t! Once you follow this drive, the 80 acre preserve encompassing the Pithlachascotee (Cotee)
River is an oasis of old Florida wilderness in the midst of suburban Pasco County.
At the trail head there is some parking, a pavilion, fishing dock and canoe launch. Although it looks inviting on a warm summer day, there is no swimming allowed. Like any other natural part of Florida, there are gators and water snakes that love to hide in the tanic waters.
The park is one end of a designated Florida Canoe Trail that runs from Frances Park, a New Port Richey City Park, 4.5 mile down the river. The Cotee river runs slow but has many hairpin turns that will be challenging for the beginner but navigable. This section is very scenic with practically no development along the shores of the river. Visitors can also kayak through the canals of the preserve, which has natural Florida ecosystems such as: hardwood hammock uplands and riverflood plain swamps.
In 2007 the City of New Port Richey built a 1/2 mile board walk with a fishing pier that runs along the river and through floodplain swamplands. This section is listed as part of the FWC Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. The park information sign boasts that 140 different species of birds have been spotted here. I myself have spotted on various ocassions: Green Heron, Yellow-crowned night heron, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and a great horned owl.
As the boardwalk leads you through the river floodplain, the trail continues around the park and back to a shaded family picnic area that has restroom facilities, three tin roofed pavilions with grills, picnic tables, and a large parking area. There are a total of 2 miles of trails in the park for hiking and birding.
This is also a fun place for GEOCaching. I will not disclose which caches are located here..but the coordinates of the park are: Lat. 28 deg 14 min N, Long. 82 deg 42 min W.
Hint: Bring children…there will be some crawling in the dirt!
History: The Preserve is named after James E. Grey, a Pasco County Pioneer that died in 1985. Mr. Grey was the first male child born in the City of New Port Richey after it was established in 1915. He was considered a small hometown hero as the first Quarterback of the Football Team at Gulf High School and, later, the Captain at the local volunteer Fire Department.
Directions: From US 19 (north or south) turn east on SR 54, turn right at Rowen/Seven Springs intersection and head north, turn left on Plathe Road, the preserve Entrance is 1/2 mile down on the right side.
James E Grey Preseve
6938 Plathe Road New Port Richey, Fl 34652
Click here for a Google Map to James E Grey Preserve