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Sherwood L. Stokes Preserve

Sherwood L. Stokes is the perfect place for bird lovers! This area combines rare species preservation, protection of water and natural resources and public recreation. There are endless opportunities to experience the extensive mosaic of plant communities, view more than 70 species of birds, and maybe even catch a glimpse of other wildlife, such as deer, turkey or feral hogs. Come enjoy the natural walkways through the forests, marshes, scrub and hammocks.

Since 1992, multiple tracts of land have been purchased by the South Florida Water Management District, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Polk County and the Federal Government. The South Florida Water Management District manages the 7,000-plus-acre system. Part of the area (3,472 acres) is a Save Our Rivers property and is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a Wildlife Management Area Type I, so hunting occurs there during the designated season. The Sherwood L. Stokes property is 225 acres and was acquired in January 2002 as an addition to the Lake Marion Creek project, in order to help protect the creek's fresh headwaters.



Whether you want to hike a scrubby area or a flatter, very diverse trail of wet pine flatwoods and flood-plain swamp, this area has something for everyone. The trail leads to a scenic view of Lake Marion Creek.

Photography/Wildlife Viewing

Prolific wildflowers in the spring and views of Lake Marion Creek in the morning light provide beautiful photography opportunities.

Butterfly Watching

Looking for some showy skippers and other beautiful butterflies? With just a short hike, butterfly enthusiasts can capture species that rely on both upland and wetland plants.


Picnic Shelters

One picnic shelter is located near the Lake Marion creek shoreline, available on a first come, first serve basis.

No Restrooms

No restrooms are currently available.


Grassy parking area is available.


Lake Marion Creek Trail — (1 mile roundtrip, Easy, Some Shade)

Begin by strolling through the white sugar sand of a scrub community, which gradually transitions to a lower elevation with moss-covered ground and tall cabbage palms that seem to reach to the sky. At the end of this trail you'll find the reward of a picnic shelter and views of Lake Marion Creek. The picnic shelter is a great spot for paddlers to take a brief rest as they continue their trek along the creek. There is no canoe launch, only a canoe stopover at this site.

Natural Communities

Floodplain Swamps

This lowland area hugs the majority of the Lake Marion Creek shoreline and is dominated by cypresses, red maples and bays, with little understory vegetation. It can get very wet during the rainy season, when it stores water overflowing from Lake Marion Creek.

Located along Lake Walk-in-Water Creek, this habitat contains cypresses, tupelos, black gums, oaks and red maples.


This is a fire-dependent scrub community of 140 acres, with the most prevalent trees being sand live oak, dwarf live oak and Chapman oak.

Pine Flatwoods

This community contains slash pine and longleaf pine with saw palmetto, gallberry shrubs, wiregrass and flowering plants.


Look for gopher tortoises, sand-skink tracks, eastern indigo snakes, eagles, osprey and several wading bird species. You might also spot an owl, fox or bobcat.

Bald eagle in flight with wings fully expanded
Closeup view of a raccoon using hands to eat
Closeup view of Great Horned Owl face


The Stokes property is located on the Lake Wales ridge and borders Lake Marion. It is composed of the communities oak scrub and forested wetlands (otherwise known as floodplain forests). The oak scrub is dominated by scrub oaks, pine overstory may be lacking or sparse. The scrub oak, sand live oak, Quercus geminata dominants the oak scrub. Other scrub oaks include myrtle oak Q. myrtifolia, and Archibald scrub oak, Q. inopina. An endemic species of hickory, scrub hickory, Carya floridana is found here. Herbaceous plants include garberia, Garberia heterophylla and rusty lyonia, Lyonia ferruginea.

Floodplain forests have rich soils received during period of flooding. During the dry season, which in Florida is the winter, standing water is absent. The dominant hardwoods are black gum, Nyssa sylvatica, red maple, Acer rubrum and water oak, Quercus nigra. Herbaceous plants are leather flower, Clematis crispa and mazus, Mazus pumilus.

Driving Directions

Sherwood L. Stokes Preserve is located in northeast Polk County near Haines City.

Exit east off US 27 onto US 17-92 and follow for almost two miles. Turn right (east) on E Johnson Ave (County Rd 580). Turn right onto Lake Marion Creek Road. The parking area is on the south side of the road.

Google Map Directions to Sherwood L. Stokes Preserve


7598 Lake Marion Creek Rd.
Haines City, FL 33844

Hours of Operation
6 a.m. — 6:30 p.m. (Standard Time)
5:30 a.m. — 8 p.m. (Daylight Savings Time)

In This Section

Shoreline landscape view at Sherwood L. Stokes
Sherwood L. Stokes
Sherwood L Stokes trails map
Sherwood L. Stokes Trail
Picnic Shelter at Sherwood L Stokes
Sherwood L. Stokes Picnic Shelter
Landscape view of natural area at Sherwood L. Stokes
Sherwood L. Stokes Open Area