Located in Port Richey, Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park doesn’t look like much when you first approach. The main entrance is off a very busy highway and, if you weren’t looking for it, you would easily pass right by it. I’ve passed by its entrance many times and didn’t even know it was there! The park is located about 28 miles north of Clearwater, 11 miles north of Tarpon Springs and 1 hour west of Tampa International Airport.
A protected 4 mile area that backs up to the Gulf of Mexico, the salt springs were used during the Civil War to excavate salt for the southern troops and during World War II was used as a spot to catch mullet to send overseas to the Allied troops.
Be sure to bring cash with you when visiting Werner-Boyce – there is no guard station when you enter, only a money box. It’s based on the honor system. Florida State Park pass holders just drive through (I took my card out and waved it around in case anyone thought I wasn’t paying!).
The cost to enter is $3 per vehicle, up to 8 people. If you’re riding a bike in or walking in, the cost is $2 per per person.
Things To Do
The park is small so there aren’t a lot of the activities that you might see at the large state parks. It’s still a serene place to relax for half a day.
There are three entrances to Werner-Boyce. The main entrance is off of US Hwy 19 and gives you access to the main hiking areas. There are two more side entrances, at Scenic Drive and State Road 52 that provide access to two additional trails but don’t have as many amenities as the main entrance.
I hiked the springs trail at the main entrance. The landscape is varied from traditional Florida scrubs to high grass areas and there are seven sections, each less than a half mile each. There were a lot of people walking the trails on the weekday that I went, but in some spots it can be secluded. At one point I saw a trail made from the salt springs into the high grass area which to me meant ‘alligator!’. I never saw my assumed trail mate, but it was a good reminder to me to be aware of my surroundings, even though it was so peaceful and relaxing on the trails.
There is access to the mangrove areas of the park at the main park entrance for you to put in a canoe or a kayak. The paddling trails can take you through the salt springs or out to the Gulf of Mexico. Since the mangroves protect the shoreline, there is no swimming or beaches at Werner-Boyce.
Before scheduling time to go out, make sure you check the tides. Paddling needs to be done during high tide due to the mangroves.
On the first Saturday of each month a park ranger will take a group out for a guided kayak tour. Tours are limited to the first 12 kayakers. The tour company that rents out kayaks and canoes also offers tours and events. Check with park rangers that are onsite or at the information board next to the concession trailer for more information.
Birding and Wildlife
Werner Boyce has an extensive amount of birds living within its park. In additional to the traditional wading birds found in this area of Florida, bald eagles, Roseate spoonbills, black rails and other types of birds have been seen in the park.
In addition to birds, there are traditional Florida wildlife to be seen such as alligators, snakes, racoons and gopher tortoises.
Dogs on retractable 6-foot leashes are welcome on the trail. Please don’t forget to pick up after your pet!
Food & Restrooms
Restrooms and a small concession stand that offers sodas, water, bagged snacks, sunscreen and bug spray are both located at the main park entrance.
Get your Florida State Parks passport stamped at the concession stand.
Canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards are available for rental from Paddling Adventures. Rentals are available every day from 8am to 3pm and rentals are due back no later than 5pm.
There are no picnic pavilions available for rental at this park but there are picnic tables located along some of the trails.
There are no sleeping accommodations at Werner-Boyce.
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs is open from 8am to sunset, 365 days per year.
There are three entrances to the park. The main entrance (where most accommodations including restrooms and concessions are located) is at 8737 US Hwy 19 N, Port Richey, 34668. The park is on the west side of the highway – if you’re coming from the south you’ll need to make a u-turn to get into the entrance.
The Scenic Drive trail entrance is located at 10333 Scenic Drive, Port Richey. The Black Rail trail entrance is located at 6641 SR 52, Port Richey.