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Philippe Park and Cooper's Bayou

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Difficulty: Basic to Moderate Scenery: Good
Location: Safety Harbor,
Pinellas County
Distance: 8 miles round-trip
from Philippe Park to Courtney Campbell Causeway.
Atlas: Page 82 D-3
Last Update: May 2006 Canoe OK: No

Photos only Photo-trip - limited details.


This trip starts from Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. We immediately turn south, heading toward the world-famous Safety Harbor Spa. If you need pampering after a long day on the water, here's the place to go with it's 189 rooms and 30,000 sqft spa. Prices including room start at $170/day per person, double occupancy, so it's a little on the expensive side. For those just visiting, there is a small marina and sandy beach that makes a good place to take a break.

We continue south past Safety Harbor Spa and onto Cooper's Bayou. This is another Pinellas County Park and part of the Bayshore Linear Greenway System of trails. Keep aiming for the mangroves and Courtney Campbell Causeway as you pass a number of big, beautiful homes on the edge of Old Tampa Bay.

There are many mangrove passageways and my paddle partners of the day, Hank and Everett, tell of a secret mangrove tunnel and bridge leading from Cooper's Bayou to Old Tampa Bay. After much exploring we found it, along with a hidden gem - a perfectly mowed, flat, dry spot in the mangroves. Perfect for a picnic!

The return voyage to Safety Harbor is easy. After passing under the hidden bridge, paddle north along the mangroves to open water. Aim for that itty-bitty electrical tower 4 miles away. It's actually hundreds of feet tall, but at this distance it looks tiny. If the water is rough, you'd do better retracing your path instead of making the open water crossing.


From the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Clearwater, turn north on Bayshore Blvd (near Mc Mullen-Booth Rd). The road changes name to Philippe Parkway. Continue north on Philippe. The entrance is on the right, about 50 yards past Enterprise Road.

Philippe Park and Cooper's Bayou Photographs

Philippe Park; Launching Kayaks

Saddle up - time to launch
A small sandy beach in Philippe Park is our put-in for this trip. Keep the rather large electrical tower in mind as you'll use this landmark to guide your return trip.
Philippe Park; Cooper's Bayou; Mangroves

Cooper's Bayou
Near Courtney Campbell Causeway on Old Tampa Bay is Cooper's Bayou. The land portion is a Pinellas County Park and part of their Greenways trail system. We found the mangroves excellent paddling.
Philippe Park; Cooper's Bayou; Bridge; Hank

The Hidden Bridge

Hank and Everett knew about a secret mangrove tunnel and bridge, but just didn't know where it was. After 45 minutes searching the mangroves, we found it. GPS Location:
N27 58.182 W82 41.557
Now you can find it too!

Philippe Park; Ibis

Cooper's Bayou Birds
We spotted many different species of birds in the mangroves at Cooper's Bayou. From Ibis (pictured) to ducks and several heron and egrets these birds were eager for us to take their picture.
Philippe Park; Fiddler Crab

Sand Fiddler Crab
These colorful little crabs can be found along most water edges. Each has a unique, beautifully designed pattern on it's back. The males have one large claw (pictured) and females have two smaller ones.
Philippe Park; Secret Park;Hidden Picnic Spot

Secret Picnic Spot

Imagine our surprise when we came across this prime stretch of mowed land in the middle of a mangrove estuary. Our guess is the land belongs to Clearwater Christian College located nearby. It makes a great picnic spot, but don't blame us if you get cited for trespassing. GPS Location:
N27 57.998 W82 41.691