McGough Nature Park, Largo, FL

by Heather Lindsay Sell, ShoutOUT®, August 4, 2018

“Nature itself is the best physician.” ~Aristotle

HeronsMy great grandfather believed that the problem with people these days is that they were no longer connected with the earth and nature. It’s funny, because when I’m stressed, need to decompress, or need to feel grounded, where do I head? Outside. Into nature. And his words always seem to spring to mind.

There’s something inexorably healing about being in nature and outdoors. And like I mentioned, undeniably grounding.

One of my favorite places to center myself is McGough Nature Park not too far from me. I like that it’s a smaller park as it just feels more intimate and comforting for some reason. My own piece corner of earth.

Turtle PondI can either stroll the shell-lined or dirt trails all the way around the park, or let the trail lead me to the boardwalk and small pier overlooking the Intracoastal. I love to watch the squawking gulls diving into the water, Blue Herons stealing themselves through the brine to sneak upon their snack, and sometimes bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the waves.

Oftentimes as a walk out to the deck of the pier, I spot Mangrove Tree Crabs scurrying in between the walk planks or scaling the mangrove trees leading out to the deck. Trust me. Looking over to see a crab scramble around a tree-limb at my eye-level is quite an experience.

OwlOn my adventure, I often encounter bunnies nibbling on their dinner, gopher turtles chilling or grazing, and furry raccoons with their babies in tow.

I always have to remind myself to look up too. There are birds nested high above in the tree branches, as well as man-made beehives scattered throughout the park. Check out the beehives as many are “a-buzz” with lots of activity and high enough that we don’t interfere with them and they don’t interfere with us.

I generally like to end my walk by strolling by the rescued raptors housed in sheltered structures behind the park’s Nature Center. McGough houses rescues that include everything from red-tailed hawks, to barred owls, to “Sarge”, a female bald eagle, and many others.

EelTheir turtle ponds are home to a plethora of turtles including Alligator Snapping Turtles, Yellow-bellied Sliders, Florida Softshells, and much more. There’s a nibble machine where you can purchase food to feed the turtles too. Kids love that (adults too, but shhhh, it’s a secret)! McGough has definitely earned their moniker of “the turtle park”.

Aside from the live animal exhibits, trails, and boardwalk, the park also offers several educational programs, picnic facilities, a playground (my nephew loves the zipline), a dinosaur bone sand pit, a fire pit, and a Timucua Indian Chickee Hut (which is pretty cool).

Ball PythonIn the words of John Burroughs, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” I’ve found that McGough Nature Park is a great place for me to do just that. You might too.

McGough Nature Park is located at 11901 146th Street North in Largo. The park is open 7 days a week and closes at dusk. For more info and to check times of the Nature Center, visit their website: http://www.playlargo.com/facilities/the_narrows_environmental_education_center/

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About ShoutOUT

In 2009, I started sharing my experiences, food, travels, and events, along with all of the incredible people and businesses I was meeting and discovering. What began as a fun hobby had such an overwhelming response, ShoutOUT was born! I continue to stretch the boundaries locally, regionally, and nationally, discovering, sharing and connecting as I go.
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