||Scenery: Very Good
|Location: St. Petersburg,
|Distance: 10 miles
around Mullet Key or 2.25 miles on canoe trail
|Atlas: Page 90 C-3
|Last Update: October 2005
||Canoe OK: Yes on Canoe Trail
If you've heard of Stephen Leatherman, the coastal geology professor
known as "Dr. Beach", then you probably have heard of
Fort DeSoto Park. Rated America's Best Beach in 2005, Fort DeSoto
has much to offer the beachcomber: 7 miles of waterfront, sugar
white sand, several snackbars and a 12 foot wide 4 mile long asphalt
recreational trail for walking, biking and skating. Another highlight
is Fort DeSoto, a historic fort complete with cannons and mortars.
Fort DeSoto Park has much to offer the sea kayaker as well. The
900 acre park is made up of 5 interconnected islands called "keys".
Mullet Key, the largest of the islands is the focus of this trip.
By circumnavigating Mullet Key, the kayaker is able to experience
many different types of saltwater environments. North of Mullet
Key is very shallow with a seagrass bottom. The east (Tampa Bay
side) has course sand and shell beaches while the south (Gulf) side
exhibits those fine white sand beaches that Dr. Beach is so fond
of. To the southeast, the Egmont shipping channel separates Mullet
Key and Egmont Key. This waterway is traveled by some of the world's
largest ships and reaches depths of over 90 feet.
Fort DeSoto Beach.
| For those individuals not quite ready to make
the 10 mile trip around Mullet Key, there is a 2.25 mile recreational
canoe trail on the island. Kayak, canoe and bicycle rentals
are also available.
To visit Fort DeSoto Park, take I-275 south of St. Petersburg to
Exit 4, the Pinellas Bayway. Go west through the first toll booth.
Just past a condo community, follow signs to Fort DeSoto as the
Bayway turns south. Continue past the second toll booth to the park.
Put-in at the boat ramp located on the south side of Bunces Pass
Boat, Paddle, PFD
Toll Road Fees, $1
[Optional] Canoe, Kayak rentals available
White Sand Beach
Spanish-American War fort (1898)
Pelicans and Radio Transmitter.
Tour: Mullet Key (10 miles)
The trip around Mullet Key takes 3 to 4 hours to
complete. To begin, put-in at the Mullet Key boat ramp. Boat traffic
can be quite heavy here, however the 800 foot WIDE (thankfully not
LONG) concrete boat ramp alleviates many hassles. Head east under
the Bunces Pass bridge. You should be able to see the Sunshine Skyway
bridge from this vantage point. The water east of the bridge is
very shallow (1-2 feet).
As you round the eastern tip of Mullet Key, you'll pass between
the main island and Conception Key. Follow the shoreline southwest
to some very nice bayside beaches. Approximately 4 miles from the
boat ramp is the south fishing pier, a 500' pier extending into
Tampa Bay. At the pier is a small snackbar and restrooms.
Continue west toward the Gulf fishing pier. You're getting close
when the shoreline turns to large man-made barricades used to halt
erosion at the old fort. Pass under the 1000 foot long Gulf pier
and follow the beach in a northeastern direction. Two miles later,
you'll reach Bunces Pass. Following the seawall east returns you
to the boat ramp.
Fort DeSoto Park was named after the fort that occupies the southwestern
tip of Mullet Key. Construction on the fort began at the end of
the 1890s with the intention that this fort, along with one across
the channel on Egmont Key were to protect the entrance to Tampa
Bay. A battery of four 12 inch mortars and two 6 inch rapid firing
cannons are located at the fort. The fort was used as a gunnery
and bombing range during World War II. The city of St. Petersburg
purchased Mullet Key, the fort and surrounding keys from the Federal
government in 1948.
Fort DeSoto mortar.
Stefan and Dan 10 miles later.
| GPS Location Aid
|Boat Ramp Put-In
|East Fishing Pier