Friday, February 17, 2023

Lake Louisa SP–Feb 2023

Belle looks pretty big from this angle

The last time I was camping here was back in June of 2016; the park seems to have had a lot of upgrades since then.  There is now a concessionaire at the park that offers kayak rental, guided horseback tours, and even segway tours.  There’s even a new canteen right in the campground.

My campsite was a pull-through and had water and electric; I walked around the campground saw that some of the sites also have sewer.  That would have been nice, but luckily there were no delays at the dump station when I left so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.  I had excellent internet access with T-Mobile.

Double Decker RV

While I was walking around the camping area, I saw the biggest RV I’ve ever seen… it was a converted double decker bus. The family that lived in this beast were full timers with six kids. 

I also met a couple, Dave and Cindy, who also share a blog with their adventures on the road.  Their website, Two Lane Touring, has some amazing photographs!

This state park is the only one I’ve ever been to where I’ve seen Passion Fruit flowers – they  were in bloom the last time I was here, but February is too early in the season. I’d like to come back in a few months to see if they’re still blooming here. 

Related Posts

Approaching Hammond LakeHiking Campground to Smokehouse Lake Cabins across from Lake DixieHiking Dixie Lake to Lake Louisa

Monday, February 13, 2023

Hiking from the Campground to Smokehouse Lake

View across Smokehouse Lake
View Across Smokehouse Lake

Today’s hike was much shorter than yesterday.  The weather couldn’t have been any nicer though… about 65 degrees (or 18 degrees C), only a slight occasional breeze, low humidity, and clear skies.  This is what winter in Florida is meant to be.

TrailheadI started the hike at the trailhead just to the southwest of my campsite. There is a fence there to block horseback riders from coming to the road, but it has an opening for people on foot.  The first numbered trail marker is about a tenth of a mile down the path.

Trail ViewThe trails back here are shared between horses and hikers, so they are plenty wide and well-maintained just like the other trails in the park…  Not nearly as “primitive” as what I’m used to hiking.  Though horses are allowed, I didn’t see any on this trip.  Other than one jogger who passed me just as I was starting, I had the trails to myself today.

Wild OrangesI followed the numbered trail markers (53 – 52 – 48 – 49) down to Smokehouse lake which was only about one mile from the  trailhead.  Along the way I passed a lot of wild orange trees.  There must have been a grove here some time ago.  I tried one of the oranges and they were a little sweet but still pretty sour.  Not bad – perfect oranges for marmalade.

Unnamed PondHeading north from Smokehouse Lake, I passed by a pond which appears to be unnamed.  After that there was a lot of uphill hiking before reaching Hammond Lake.  It wasn’t difficult, but with so many flat hikes in Florida, it was noticeable.

The trail met Hammond lake near the southeast shore and then continued to the north to wrap around back to the campground.

This was a short hike, with free snacks along the way so it’s worth checking out.  Overall distance traveled was only about 2 3/4 miles a few bodies of water to appreciate along the way.  I didn’t see any wildlife besides birds and lizards, which surprised me.  That would likely change in the off season though.

More Photos

Approaching Hammond Lake Hammond Lake-1
Tree Graveyard Its all uphill from here

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Sunday, February 12, 2023

Hiking from Dixie Lake to Lake Louisa

Cabins across from Lake Dixie
View Across Dixie Lake

Today was a very windy and slightly rainy day, but it still made for a good hike.  The trails between Dixie Lake and Lake Louisa are wide and dry.  This hike was about six miles long, but it could easily be broken down into smaller hikes, as I jumped from one trailhead to the next.  There are so many trails, and many of them cross each other, that the easiest way to navigate is to get a map from the ranger station and then hike “by the numbers”.  I just picked the path that I wanted to take, and followed the numbered trail markers according to my plan.  One nice thing is that all of the informational kiosks have a “you are here” marker on them, which made it easy to gauge my distance for the portion of this hike that went along the road between trails.

Kiosk at Lake LouisaThe first trailhead is across the street from the Dixie Lake day-use area.  My plan was to hike to the  west until I got to Big Creek and then follow that to the north until I reached the second trailhead.  There was a sign along the way that identified the area as “Sandhill Loop”, but  I didn’t see anything on the map with that name, so I wondered if that might be an old marker that just hasn’t been removed.

Big CreekBig Creek is about a half mile from the trailhead, and looks like a typical creek for Florida – shallow flowing water with that deep brown color from the cypress trees and their tannic acids.  From this point the trail heads towards the north where it crosses a paved road to arrive at the next trailhead.

First Bridge over Big CreekFor this section of the hike it really was “by the numbers”.  From this trailhead I continued to the north where I crossed a small bridge that spans Big Creek and then I kept going until I reached marker 25. 

Mosquito Feeding StationShortly after passing the Mosquito Feeding-Station (my name for any bench installed by a swamp), there was one spot where a couple of downed trees and wet areas made it difficult to see the  trail.  It seems that the trail somehow worked its way back to the paved road to get past the wet area and then turned right back into the woods. 

Trail Marker 25Trail marker 25 was a key waypoint for me, as it helped me identify where I needed to look for my return trip.  On the way back, I planned to follow trail marker 18.  A line drawn between 18 and 25 is almost perpendicular to the  paved road, so with that marked on my GPS it would be simple to find where I needed to turn.

Lake Louisa BeachFollowing the numbered trail markers in descending order, I arrived at the Lake Louisa beach area after marker number 21.  There is a pretty good sized boardwalk through a swampy area along the way, and a bridge passing over a swamp between the beach parking area and the beach itself.

Palmetto FieldMy return trip from the beach started with about a one-mile hike along the paved road until I reached the trail that I was looking for.  This portion of the hike goes through a large field of palmettos for about 3/4 of a mile.  As with the rest of this hike though, the trail is wide and dry.  I suspect the windy conditions was the explanation for the lack of birds in the area.

Contrasting ColorsAfter re-entering the forest, I was about one mile away from the second bridge crossing Big Creek.  There was a section here that was really pretty, partly because of how large the area was.  It was covered in bright tan/yellow grasses with spots of dark green from palmettos and pines.  The colors contrasted so strongly.

Second Bridge over Big CreekCrossing the second bridge over Big Creek had me about two tenths of a mile from picking up the leg of the trail that I headed out on, and only less than half a mile back to the trail head where I started.

So this turned out to be a nice hike even if the weather wasn’t perfect.  As I mentioned, this could easily be broken down into at least three separate hikes if doing all of this at once seems too long.  It was an easy hike all around, and a really pretty spot to do it.

More Photos…

Boardwalk through swamp Big Creek at First Bridge Re-entering Forest
Little Creek Swamp at Lake Louisa Trail Marker

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Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Orlando Wetlands Park–Boardwalk

The new boardwalk at OWP

Orlando Wetlands Park has opened up a new boardwalk spanning the center of Lake Searcy; it passes very near the cypress swamp out in the middle where a lot of birds (especially roseate spoonbills) nest.  The boardwalk offers some really nice photo opportunities.

Roseate Spoonbills
2023-01-29_11-03-11Herons 2023-01-29_11-10-45

Of course there are still alligators around that like to hang out for photos

20230129_113838 2023-01-29_11-49-29 2023-01-29_11-09-41

I’m also starting to practice with the camera lenses on my new phone as well as with a Nikon camera and zoom lens.  The fixed lenses on the phone do pretty well, but the digital zoom leaves a little to be desired.  The zoom lens on the regular camera does a nice job, but I think I’m gonna need some more practice with it.

Roseate Spoonbills
Wood Storks

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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Jonathon Dickenson SP–Pine Grove Campground

Campsite at Jonathon Dickenson State Park

With the new Travel Trailer, and a long break from updating my blog, I’m starting to get back into the swing of things.  This trip was a three night stay, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t really on my side.  It got (what I call) Florida cold – temperatures in the low 60’s.  Luckily though I packed my hiking pants in addition to the shorts I usually wear.


On the first day, I had time after setting up camp to go for a bike ride up to the Hobe Mountain Lookout.  It was a nice ride on the roads, and only about four miles round trip with a slight uphill grade on the whole way out.  At one point the wind blew my hat off so I had to stop part way up the hill.

The way back was pretty fast though – downhill is a lot more fun!

View from Hobe TowerThe view from the top of the tower is pretty nice.  If the weather was a little more clear, I’m pretty sure that I would have been able to see the ocean.

On the second day, I went looking for some hiking opportunities in between the bouts of rain.  I started looking at the Kitching Creek trail, but it a little underwater.  It was only about ankle deep, but I didn’t want to spend the day in wet shoes.  Instead I stopped by the visitor’s center and they recommended the River Trail which starts right behind the building.

River Trail BeginningThe River Trail is a short hike along the river and winds through the mangroves. I met a woman from Germany along the way and we ended up making the hike together.  The tide wasn’t completely low, so the path we took looks a little strange in the linked map, but our feet stayed mostly dry.

There is a sign at the beginning of the trail that says the trail markers are under construction, so the pink ribbons should be followed.  That didn’t help in the latter part of the hike though.  At a fork in the trail we took a turn to the right instead of the left and ended up in the campground.  We weren’t far off the planned trail; just had a slight detour.

2022-10-20_12-35-20On the third day (yes, it was still raining) I took the bike out on the Camp Murphy Paved Bike Trail.  This trail runs alongside some railroad tracks where a train was parked.  Nothing much to say about this one – it’s long and straight and kind of boring.  There is an off road trail just off to the side and I saw a couple of folks whipping through the turns and hitting the ramps.  That trail looked like a lot of fun.

I will say that I liked this campground.  My only disappointment was that the river tour wasn’t running until the weekend because they were down to only one captain on staff so the days of the tour were limited.  Next time I’ll have to make sure my visit spans a weekend so I can take the tour down to Trapper Nelson’s Interpretive Site.


Web Site  
Fee $33
Reservations Yes
Electricity Yes
Water Yes
Sewer Yes
Shower/Bathhouse Yes
Internet Access Yes – Excellent 5GUC
Location 16450 SE Federal Hwy, Hobe Sound, FL 33455

More Photos

Purple Flowers Thatched Pavillion Roots Exposed
River View Swamp River Trail View
Camp Murphy History-1 Camp Murphy History-2 Camp Murphy History-3