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Dept Env Protection:
Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve

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E.G. Simmons Park

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Difficulty: Basic Scenery: Good
Location: Ruskin,
Hillsborough County
Distance: 6 mile loop to
Sand Key.
Atlas: Page 91 C-2
Last Update: May 2002 Canoe OK: No

Photos only Photo-trip - limited details.


E.G. Simmons Park is located near Ruskin on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The 469 acre park and preserve is a popular place to picnic, fish, bird watch or just spend a lazy day sunning and swimming. For kayakers, E.G. Simmons makes a great launching point for exploring the aquatic preserves just south of the park.

The park includes a boat ramp, fishing pier, covered picnic shelters, restrooms, swim beach, several camping areas with a bath house, playground and a park ranger's office. Hours of operations are 8am to sunset and with the exception of camping, the use of all facilities is free.


From Tampa travel south on I-75 towards Ruskin. Take College Avenue (Exit 240B, old #46A) west to Highway 41. Go north (right) on Highway 41 to 19th Avenue. Turn west (left) and follow signs to the park.

E.G. Simmons Photographs

E.G. Simmons Park;Mangrove Waterways

Paddling Mangrove Waterways
Even though mangroves line most waterways in and around E.G. Simmons, it's easy to launch a kayak from virtually all points within the park. The city of Apollo Beach is north, while the Little Manatee River, Sand Key and the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve are south.
E.G. Simmons Park;Dock;Bahia del Sol

Sea Grapes
Sea grapes (Coccoloba uvifera) can be found at E.G. Simmons and along much of the shoreline around the park. This shrub has a tree-like trunk, round leathery leaves, and green to purple fruit. While not poisonous, don't eat the fruit as the plant is protected by law.
E.G. Simmons Park;Cockroach Bay;Hole in the wall.

Bahia del Sol
At two miles south of the E.G. Simmons boat ramp, you'll pass the small community and marina of Bahia del Sol. The beach here makes a good stop before continuing south another 1/2 mile to the Little Manatee River.
E.G. Simmons Park;Sea Grapes

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve
The Preserve starts at the Little Manatee River and encompasses about 8,500 acres of mangroves, marsh and nearshore waters. The strange name given to the Preserve is from horseshoe crabs, which are sometimes referred to as "Cockroaches of the Sea".
E.G. Simmons Park;Sand Key;Kayaker;Ed

Beach at Sand Key
Sand Key is a small island that lies south of where the Little Manatee River meets Tampa Bay. The bay side of the island features a narrow sand beach, just perfect for a picnic. Like many areas in the Cockroach Bay State Preserve, access to the island's interior is limited so watch for white boundary signs.
E.G. Simmons Park;Wildlife;Brown Pelican

Wildlife at E.G. Simmons
Wildlife is abundant at the park and the shallow waters provide paddlers with an excellent opportunity to spot pelicans, herons, cormorants, osprey, ibis and other shoreline and wading birds. Fishing is a big hit too; toss a line for sheepshead, spotted seatrout, redfish, snook and flounder.