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Pinellas County:
John Chesnut Park
A L Anderson Park

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Lake Tarpon

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Difficulty: Basic Scenery: Fair
Location: Tarpon Springs,
Pinellas County
Distance: 1.5 miles around Salmon Bay or 8 miles round trip to John Chesnut Sr. Park
Atlas: Page 82 C-3
Last Update: February 2001 Canoe OK: Yes


Lake Tarpon, located south of Tarpon Springs has been called "The Jewel of Pinellas County". This freshwater lake is approximately five miles long, one mile wide and covers 2,500 acres. What makes Lake Tarpon a jewel? In two words, Bass Fishing.

Lake Tarpon is regarded as one of the foremost sport fishing lakes in Florida and attracts fishermen (and fisherwomen) from all over Florida and even surrounding states. You might want to bring a pole and give it a try. Besides largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, blue tilapia and catfish provide sport and a yummy meal. Fishing licenses are required for all individuals between the ages of 16 and 65. Other restrictions may apply so check postings at either Anderson or John Chesnut parks.

Secondary to fishing, Lake Tarpon attracts power boaters, including personal watercraft users and water skiers. To a lesser extent, sailboats, canoes and kayaks can be found on the lake. While the constant barrage of engine sound can drive a paddlesport enthusiast crazy, the lake offers a variety of wildlife viewing and many interesting areas to explore.

Lake Tarpon;Exploring Salmon Bay.
Exploring Salmon Bay.
Paddling experiences on the Lake Tarpon vary dramatically depending upon day and time. If possible, it's best to avoid weekends and plan on paddling either early morning or later in the afternoon. Both parks are open from 7am until dark.


Lake Tarpon is located southeast of Tarpon Springs, FL. The two primary public access points are Anderson Park (North) at 39699 U.S. Highway 19 North, Tarpon Springs and John Chesnut, Sr. Park (South) at 2200 East Lake Rd, Palm Harbor, FL. Entrance and parking at both parks is free.

Important Items

Boat, Paddle, PFD
Optional: Fishing Pole + License


Fresh water lake with outflow to Tampa Bay
Pine flatwoods, cypress marsh
Hilly terrain (Anderson Park)
Aquatic vegetation-cattails and hydrilla
Urbanized wildlife
Extensive power boat usage

Lake Tarpon;Paddling on the lake.
Paddling on Lake Tarpon.

Tour #1: Salmon Bay / Anderson Park (1.5 miles)

For those lucky enough to live in the northern Pinellas area, a quick paddle around Salmon Bay may just be what the doctor ordered. Salmon Bay is part of Anderson Park and can be found two miles south of Tarpon Springs on U.S. Hwy 19. The park is 128 acres in size and offers group picnicking facilities, elevated boardwalks with nature trail and a boat ramp.

Put-in at the boat ramp to begin the trip. Immediately turn left (North) and follow the edge of the bay in a clockwise fashion. Those paddlers with a keen eye can spot many different types of birds including American coot, grackles, seagulls, osprey and even an occasional bald eagle. There are many small inlets off Salmon Bay that are just waiting to be explored. You will no doubt spot a few alligators along the way.

As you reach the entrance of Salmon Bay (from Lake Tarpon) be sure to watch for boats. Most travel at high rates of speed through this area so make the crossing quickly. On the other side, you can resume a leisurely pace and enjoy the rest of the trip back to the boat ramp.

Tour #2: Salmon Bay to John Chesnut Sr. Park (8 miles)

If you're seeking a longer paddle at Lake Tarpon, a trip from Salmon Bay in Anderson Park to John Chesnut Sr. Park will take you on an 8 mile adventure (round trip). To begin, put-in at the boat ramp and paddle approximately 1/2 mile east toward the bay entrance. Rounding the point will take you past a nice picnic area. Watch for fishing lines in the water as many anglers also enjoy this spot.

Head south once you reach the open waters of Lake Tarpon. Follow the shoreline for 2.5 miles past numerous small coves. You can tell you've reached Dolly Bay as the homes get larger and more expensive. Continue south for another mile. The lake is much narrower here and looking east (across the lake) you should see the boardwalk at John Chesnut Sr. Park. Carefully paddle the one mile crossing toward the boardwalk. As you get closer to the east side of the lake, you should be able to see a lookout platform and south of that, a playground and picnic shelters. The shelter just south of the playground is #9 (See GPS locations). Stop here for a well deserved rest. If you feel like paddling further and don't mind a portage, you might want to explore the inland canoe trail. Otherwise retrace your path back to Salmon Bay and Anderson Park.

A note about crossing Lake Tarpon. It can be dangerous, even foolhardy, to make the crossing if there is much boat traffic or high winds. The lake will get rough between the wakes created by boats and the wind driven waves.

Special Interest:

The "U" shaped canoe trail at John Chesnut Sr. Park is a .6 mile landlocked waterway that begins by shelter #9. Those paddlers without fear of alligators and snakes may take twisty trail under five sets of bridges to the interior lake. Paddling to the end of the lake (near the remains of a fairly large windmill), will put you within 200 yards of your starting point. It's probably too far to carry your kayak, but it makes driving the shuttle vehicle a snap.

For the land lover, the 255-acre John Chesnut Sr. Park also features picnic shelters, playground equipment, a softball field, volleyball court, fishing pier and three nature trails including elevated boardwalks and lookouts.

Lake Tarpon;Alligator warning.
Watch for 'gators on the
canoe trail (interior lake).
Lake Tarpon;Canoe Trail.
Landlocked canoe trail leads
to the interior lake.

GPS Location Aid


Anderson Park
Salmon Bay
Boat Ramp
John Chesnut
Shelter #9
John Chesnut Sr.
Boat Ramp