Discovering Red Bug Slough with Merevin

Published: 12/10/14 1:18 AM in Local, North America, Travel.
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Growing up in Sarasota, Florida gives a person access to some beautiful outdoor public lands that are safe for all ages to enjoy. The most visited and recognized outdoor activity in Sarasota is Siesta Key, the local beach with gentle warm water and endless stretches of white, baby-powder sand. However there are also some lovely and peaceful parks throughout the area that are less known, but well worth a visit.

A perfect example of this is the park known as the Red Bug Slough. Despite driving past this park for almost my entire life, I had never actually taken the time to stop and explore it. This oversight, as well as a ton of recommendations from friends, caused Kevin and I to spend an afternoon there with our friend Lauren on a slightly chilly November afternoon.

About the Red Bug Slough Preserve

The Red Bug Slough Preserve is a 72-acre preserve nestled in the middle of suburban Sarasota. The land was purchased as recently as 2000 and 2001 through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program with the Florida Communities Trust providing funding for the acquisition. The park is one of the many beautiful Sarasota parks maintained by Sarasota’s Parks and Recreation.

Although the Red Bug Slough Preserve seems like a small park since it is flanked on all sides by suburban housing, it contains a remnant piece of natural Florida. It also contains several miles of hiking trails, a small playground, and a fishing dock over a larger than expected lake.

Meredith Lambert and Lauren Branzei explore the Red Bug Slough in Sarasota, Florida.

The open fields of the Red Bug Slough are a hidden gem in Sarasota, Florida.

The large lake in the center of the Red Bug Slough.

The Red Bug Slough is a beautiful hidden gem in the middle of Sarasota, Florida.


An Afternoon Spent at Red Bug Slough

After gorging ourselves with food during our Thanksgiving meals with family, an outdoor stroll sounded like the perfect medicine to ease our over-stuffed stomachs. So we decided to finally visit a nearby park that had been praised by many acquaintances, but we had yet taken the time to visit. Although the entire visit only took us a couple of hours, we were definitely not disappointed by what the Red Bug Slough had to offer.

On the afternoon of Black Friday, the park was pleasantly populated. There were enough people to let you know that this is a well loved and used park by the locals, but not so many people that you felt crowded in the open space. We began our stroll through the shaded hiking trail that leads you though the trees at the front of the park. This area provided a nice little escape from the city because as you hike you are not able to see the homes to either side of you.


A beautifully natural rentention pond in the Red Bug Slough.

Meredith Lambert and Lauren Branzei enjoy the view over the water at Red Bug Slough.

Kevin Banogon, Meredith Lambert, and Lauren Branzei enjoy a peaceful day at the Red Bug Slough.

The natural edge of the retention pond in the Red Bug Slough.


As we emerged out of the tree, we came to a large open space with a flat lawn sloping into a lake, surprisingly larger than you would expect in the middle of this part of Sarasota. Except for one area that is paved for drains, the lake’s edge is very naturalistic with cattails sprouting up through the water and creating a gradient from dry land to expansive lake. This natural treatment of the land increases the level of enjoyment the public gets from the park and increases the chance of wildlife sightings.

We continued to hike through the preserve along the cannel that shots off from the lake. It is at this park of the park that you start to see how close you are to the houses since you can see them across the water. Eventually the trail came to an end and even though we could have picked it up again if you crossed through a backyard or two, we decided it was time to turn back around.


A snowy egret enjoys the beauty of the Red Bug Slough.

Meredith Lambert and Lauren Branzei catch up during a stroll through the Red Bug Slough.

Meredith Lambert and Lauren Branzei enjoy a beautiful day at Red Bug Slough.


Red Bug Slough is a Hidden Gem of Sarasota

The overall consensus of this afternoon outing was that the Red Bug Preserve is a great little hidden gem in Sarasota. The preserve has plenty to offer while still remaining a neighborhood park that feels friendly and inviting. If you live nearby, it would be the perfect place to take your dog on an extended walk in the afternoons. In fact, we even saw a lady taking her pet pig for a nice sunny stroll through the park!

Visiting the Red Bug Slough Preserve is definitely a great way to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying the sun in Sarasota. Visiting your local parks is always a great outdoor alternative to going to beach if you are looking for something different. There are many great parks in and around the Sarasota area that are worth a day trip.


Kevin Banogon, Meredith Lambert, and Lauren Branzei take a band photo at the Red Bug Slough.

Kevin Banogon, Meredith Lambert, and Lauren Branzei jump for joy during their afternoon at the Red Bug Slough.

Kevin Banogon, Meredith Lambert, and Lauren Branzei had a great afternoon at the Red Bug Slough in Sarasota, Florida.

A beautiful alley of trees at the Red Bug Slough in Sarasota, Florida.

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