James E Grey preserve is not easy to find but worth the hunt! This preserve lies at the west end of a Plathe Road off Rowan Road. When you turn west onto this road, there will be a “No Outlet Sign. Not only does the road end, you must drive through an open gate that gives it the appearance of a private drive. You will have every inclination to turn around..but don’t! Once you follow this drive the 80 acre preserve encompassing the Pithlachascotee (Cotee)
River is an oasis of old Florida Wilderness in the middle of suburban Pasco County.
At the trail head there is some parking, a pavilion, fishing dock and canoe put-in. On hot summer days I have seen teens use this area as a swimming hole diving off the Oak Tree Branches that reach over the river. Although this is not recommended. Like any other natural part of Florida, there are gators and water snakes that live in the tanic waters.
The park is the end of a Florida Canoe Trail that runs from Frances Park 4.5 mile down the river. The river runs slow but has many hairpin turns that will be challenging for the beginner but navigable. This section is very scenic with practically no development along the shores of the river. Visitors can also kayak through the canals of the preserve, which has natural Florida ecosystems, hardwood hammock uplands and swamps.
The City of New Port Richey recently (2007) built a 1/2 mile board walk with a fishing pier that runs along the river. This section is classified as one of Florida’s Great Birding Trails. Actually, the brown Birding Trail Signs on Rowan Road are the only indication that a park is back here. The Park information sign boasts that 140 different species of birds has been spotted here.
The trails continues around the park and back to a picnic area that has restroom facilities, three tin roofed pavilions with grills and picnic tables, and a large parking area. There is a total of 2 miles of trails in the park for hiking and birding.
This is also a fun place for GEOCaching. I will not tell you which caches are here..but the coordinates of the park are: Lat. 28 deg 14 min N, Long. 82 deg 42 min W. Here is my hint: Bring children…there will be some crawling in the dirt!
History: The Preserve is named after James E. Grey, a Pasco County Pioneer that died in 1985. Mr. Grey was the first male child born in the City of New Port Richey after it was established in 1915. He was considered a small hometown hero as the first Quarterback of the Football Team at Gulf High School and, later, the Captain at the local volunteer Fire Department.