An exciting new Canopy Zone feature is now open at Manatee County’s Robinson Preserve, allowing visitors to experience nature from a fresh perspective while exploring amidst the treetops.
Situated at the edge of the historic Reasoner Tract at Robinson Preserve South, the Canopy Zone is nestled among century-old botanical giants that once formed the test plot for Royal Palm Nurseries. Follow the boardwalk as it extends past the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science and Technology (the NEST) and find yourself climbing among the limbs and leaves.
The project was designed by Stantec Engineering and built by Tandem Construction, taking inspiration from the natural elements surrounding it. Thanks to careful planning, the Canopy Zone was built amongst the existing trees, allowing for a densely shaded environment and a cool experience to combat the summer heat. The boardwalk features LED lighting allowing it to be used for staff-guided evening programs for the public and permitted special events.
The compact, two-story structure is filled with adventure park elements including a series of boardwalks, rope bridges, climbing nets, and slides. Crawl through the net tube to catch a bird’s-eye view of the newly built waterways of the Robinson Preserve Expansion or climb the tower, zigzagging through platforms to top and then take the spiral slide all the way to the understory loop on the forest floor. While some of the more challenging elements are recommended for ages 5 and older, all ages and abilities are welcome on the accessible tree-top boardwalk loop that emerges overlooking the Robinson Preserve Expansion, complete with mounted binoculars for viewing the wading birds and other wildlife within the preserve.
The project complements the ongoing habitat restoration on 135 acres located at the expansion area of Robinson Preserve to enhance fisheries habitat and install native plants. Additional amenities are also being constructed including new pavilions, restrooms, kayak storage tubes, benches and trailside shade structures. These habitat and amenity improvements are expected to be completed and re-open this winter.
The Canopy Zone is now open to the public the same hours as Robinson Preserve, sunrise to sunset seven days a week. Parking can be found near the NEST which can be reached from the preserve’s South Entrance at the end of 9th Avenue Northwest.