Cypress Creek Preserve is a 7400 acre park in Land O’ Lakes, Florida. There are two entrances to the park. One off of Pump Station Road (the West entrance), and one off of Parkway Blvd (campground entrance). The Pump Station Road entrance is not far from Highway 41, off of Ehren Cutoff Road. This entrance has a paved multi-use trail and a few off road trails.
My usual trails (Starkey Park) are closed due to wildfires. Since I had a long trail run scheduled on the weekend, I needed to find another trail near my home. Cypress Creek Preserve was only about 25 minutes from my area (New Port Richey).
Planning a Route
I did some research on Cypress Creek Preserve to plan my trip. The website states that it opens at sunset. Um, what’s sunset? After asking around, someone thought that the park opened at 7:00am. I planned my arrival for then. Also, the trails on the website don’t have distance markings. But, there is a race held there, the Long Haul 100, and I used their course map to plan my route. Their course is a 20 mile out and back (10 miles each way) route. It connects three off road trails with sections on the paved trail. I wasn’t keen on running a lot of pavement, but it didn’t look like it would be too much. I decided to use The Long Haul 100 route (minus a section near the end) for my 14 mile run.
Getting To Cypress Creek Preserve
Maria and I arrived at Pump Station Road at 6:55am, only to find it closed with a big chain-link fence gate. We were a bit confused. The sign said Cypress Creek Well Field, and this looked like the Well Field, not a recreation park. I started backing up, and as I put the car in reverse, the gate started sliding open. After driving my car through, I noticed a man at a guard house. I stopped and asked him if I was at the right place for the running trails. He assured me that I was, and told me where to park for the trail head.
We got to the trail head and started out on our run. The paved bike path is very wide. There is not any tree cover, so I could see how this path could get hot later in the morning. We were looking for our first off road trail (Trail 1), which should be about 1/2 mile down the bike path.
We found the trail (.63 miles down the bike path), and turned left onto the off road loop. This trail was to be about a mile or so. The trail started out nice, but was soon a very overgrown trail. Several times we had to bushwhack around downed trees that blocked the trail. We decided to skip this part on our way back, and get the extra miles on some of the other trails.
Dead Ends and Blocked Trails
This short trail finally emerges back to the paved bike trail. From here it crosses over the pavement to the next section of trail (Trail 2- south of the bike path). According to the Long Haul 100 route, this would be a 3 mile out route, for 6 miles total of our run. We started down a double wide crushed shell path. It wasn’t very exciting. It was an access road for the Tampa Bay Water utility trucks. Unfortunately, we reached the end of the path in only 1.5 miles. Looking at the map, we could see that the trail had many branches that looped back to the main branch. Maria and I decided to run those trails instead of going directly back.
The trail branches did not work out. Each branch we tried (and we tried them all), either came to a dead end, or came to a section that was completely un-runnable. At only 1/3 of our way through our long run, we knew this was going to be tedious piecing together our miles. We made the best of it, and chalked it up to trail exploring. (NiKYO had a wonderful time, and I even let him run off leash a little bit since there was no one else out there).
The Best Trail!
We finally made our way (branch by branch) back to the paved bike trail. With 4 miles left of our run, there was one more trail to try. We ran a bit down the pavement (about 1/2 mile), to get to the final trail (Trail 3). This trail was beautiful! This was the type of trail that we were hoping to find in Cypress Creek Preserve. Unfortunately, it isn’t a very long trail (plus we were nearly done with our run), so it was too little, too late. But we took the time to enjoy a near perfect trail, then headed back on the bike path to the car.
Cypress Creek Preserve has some good qualities to it, the bike path is well maintained, and it’s a quiet park. The off road trails are so-so. But if you are looking for a mix of paved bike path and off road trails or a short trail run, this might be a good place to try. For a double digit trail run, it would not be my first choice.
There are off road trails near the other entrance, as shown on the map. If you have run at the other Cypress Creek Entrance (Parkway Blvd), let me know! I would love to hear how those trails are!