Cockroach Bay Nature Preserve
Location and Hours
Boat Ramp and Parking
Boat ramp access point and parking are located at the western dead end of Cockroach Bay Road leads to mangrove islands and the Cockroach Bay Nature Preserve. Parking is along Cockroach Bay Road or 3839 Gulf City Road. A short hike and climb from the parking on Gulf City Road is a scenic overlook which gives a spectacular view of the restoration and natural habitats in the area. Paddlers can access the marked Horseshoe Crab and Snook Canoe Trails by canoe or kayak from the boat ramp at the west end of Cockroach Bay Rd. Enjoy a leisurely paddle through mangrove tunnels, oyster reefs, and seagrass beds. This pristine aquatic preserve provides food and shelter for numerous marine creatures and birds.
Cockroach Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project
The Cockroach Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project represents one of the largest, most complex coastal ecosystem restoration projects ever developed for Tampa Bay. The 20-year restoration project was initiated and managed by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department and the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management Program.
Before the restoration, this area suffered from a number of environmental problems including habitat degradation, invasive plant infestation and poor water quality. Hillsborough County purchased the Cockroach Bay property in 1991. Planning began immediately and work soon started to restore 500 acres of wetlands, uplands and coastal habitats. Stormwater treatment and agricultural runoff also were improved as part of the restoration.
The final phase of the project included restoring two shell pits, funded by the Tampa Port Authority. The completion of this work in 2012 marked the successful end of the 20-year restoration effort that has improved the health of Tampa Bay and its sea life.
To learn more about the management of this and other County Preserves, visit the Wilderness and Nature Preserves page.
Maps for hiking and paddling:
Hiking Safety Guidelines
Always be prepared when hiking on nature preserves:
- Bring plenty of water
- Download the map
- Tell someone your plan
- Wear proper shoes and sun protection
- Stay on marked trails
- During the rainy season, many trails will have standing water.
- If you think you are lost, call us at (813) 672-7876
- In case of an emergency, call 911
- Bird Watching
- Canoe/Kayak Launch
- Hiking Trail
- Pets Allowed
- Picnic Shelters
- Picnic Tables