Best Of 2005

BEST NATURE TRAILS: Brooker Creek Preserve

Let’s just get one thing straight — this isn’t a park. It’s a preserve, so you can’t really explore all 8,500-acres of unspoiled wilderness, not only due to a need to protect the area’s natural diversity, ecosystems and endangered species, but also because you run the risk of becoming a meal for its bobcat and coyote inhabitants. However, there is plenty to look at while hiking along the principal, 1.7-mile trail, and you’ll pretty much forget that you’re surrounded by a sprawling metropolis, as the quiet is only penetrated by bird calls and excessively vocal insects. Guided nature hikes happen Sunday mornings (8-10 a.m.) and every other Wednesday evening (6:30-8 p.m.), and a new network of hiking trails opens this winter. For more information about the preserve, to participate in programs or guided hikes, or for directions, call the Environmental Education Center at 727-453-6800. 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.