Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hiking Little Big Econ WMA from Brumley Rd

I have been looking for hiking trails along the river east of Snow Hill Rd. and I finally found this trailhead on another Florida hiker’s blog.  Check it out if you’re looking for destinations or other interesting articles.
Tina at trail headThere is a big shady parking area at the end of Brumley Rd. with some really nice Live Oak trees covered in Spanish Moss and Resurrection Ferns.  Entering the trail from here (just to the right of Tina) we had to squeeze through a stile.  I’m not sure if this area has cattle or just horses, but they are there.  There were a couple of places along the trail where we needed to watch our step.

First gateA little further down the path is a spring coming up from a pipe – it appeared that this is responsible for most of the creek that ran along side the first part of the path, and then we came to the first gate.  There are no locks, of course, but we did make sure to leave them as they were.  In this case they were both tied closed.  A little further along, we would see why.

Shortly after passing through the first gate we came upon an old piece of farm equipment.  It was difficult to tell if it was intended to haul hay or horses, but the goose-neck hitch was a giveaway that it was probably towed by a pickup truck.  A little further on, we also saw a little creek that flowed under the road.  (This was a great spot to throw a hat & cooling towel into the water on the way back).
Horses watching usJust past the creek, we came up on the horses that live here.  They kept a cautious eye on us as we passed and kept their distance.  We obliged and did the same.

On the way back, they were waiting for us at the second gate.  We weren’t sure if they were just being neighborly, or if they were hoping for an opportunity to make a break for it.  As it turned out, they decided to back off as we approached the gate.  They moved on to the same spot that I took the photo and once again kept an eye on us as we passed through.
Red FlowersPink FlowersOn the other side of the second gate, we saw some pretty flowers growing along the side of the trail.  The red ones looked like they might be in the hibiscus family, but we couldn’t be sure. 

From there the road we were on went through a “tunnel” of ancient oaks, and then we saw the first white blaze.
First view of riverA little further along we came to the trail leading into the forest that we were looking for.  The path through the forest wasn’t very long, but it was nice.  Tina spotted two different herds of about 8 or 10 deer in there.  They were moving pretty fast, so there was no chance to get a picture.

Soon we made it to the river.  There was a sign posted here that said the trail went west for .9 miles to a dead end, or east 2.8 miles to Culpepper Shelter.  We decided to go east.  We didn’t make it to the shelter this time, so we’ll give it a shot when the weather is a little cooler and more forgiving.
Andy with stump - Andy is on the leftAs you might imagine, the path along the river was really nice.  There was a cool breeze blowing and the sights were worth the trip.  At one point, we came up on an old stump that was about my size (I’m the one on the left).  I peaked in expecting to see some sort of critter, but there were only bugs and spiders.

There was also a tangle of cypress knees right along the river.  The closes tree looked way to young to have spawned them, but there wasn’t another cypress nearby, so I am pretty sure they were all part of the same tree.

We also passed through a “dead zone” where all of the grass had died.  It was weird because it was such a clean line between the healthy and dead grass… almost like there was something killing the grass in a growing larger as it did.
Tina by old treeThere are a lot of really old trees back here.  This picture of Tina was by a tree that was doing just fine even with this big wound.  She could have easily fit inside.  In another spot, we had to cross a creek, and tree there gave us a natural bridge of roots.  About the only wildlife we saw along the river was spiders.  Not a single alligator on this trip.  There were a couple of motorboats that passed by, as well as some jet skis, so all of the water creatures were staying out of sight today.
Grassy shoreThere were several areas along this side of the river that were just begging to have a picnic table set up.  In one area the grassy shore went right to the water line; I’m sure this spot floods when the river is high, but this spot was perfect today.

Tina under Spanish mossThe flora along this part of the river included bright orange mushrooms growing on a fallen log, and some air plants that were huge.  This area seems to get very little foot traffic, but the sights are amazing. 
It was a hot at the end of this hike, but we’ll be back to this area – next time we’ll go all the way out to the Culpepper Shelter.  We also need to take a look at a trail entrance that we didn’t notice until our trip back.  This one had the white blaze trail going south from the forest road that we were on.

Even though it may not be heavily traveled, the trails are all well marked.  We had no trouble following the white or the yellow blazes.  Next time we take this trail though, it will definitely be during the cool season.  By the time we got back to the truck, the temperature was easily in the mid 90’s (my truck’s thermometer said it was 98 degrees). 

Freshwater Spring
Old Farm Equipment
Creek flowing under road
Tina at Second Gate
Andy Stopping to Smell the Flowers
Tunnel through Ancient Oaks
The first blaze - white
Trail into the Forest
Go Thataway
Fallen Tree with Ferns
Tangle of Cypress Knees
Dead zone
View down the River
Natural Bridge of Roots
Big Banana Spider
Mushrooms on Fallen Log
Big Air Plant
White blazes heading south
Tina Under Spanish Moss

Powered by Wikiloc

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hiking Tosohatchee WMA–Northwest Loop

Tom and I got an early(ish) start today so we could beat most of the heat and afternoon thunderstorms if they showed up.  We started at the Youth Camp in Tosohatchee WMA and did a loop that took us all the way back.

This hike took us along the Tosohatchee Creek in several spots (at least I think it was the same creek - there was only one sign).  As we approached the Hoot Owl Hilton trail junction, we heard something by the side of the trail that sounded like a baby alligator, but since we left the creek behind at that point it had to be something else.  As we quietly walked up to where the sound was, a big ol' frog jumped one way and a black snake took off the other way.  Something tells me that we weren't the only ones investigating the noise - I'm pretty sure we interrupted lunch (or saved the frog, depending on your perspective).
Creek next to trail
Endless Trail
A little further on, we came to the Nettles Trail junction.  We took this one for an opportunity to search for a geocache.  Part of this trail had that endless path look as it headed straight between a long row of pines.  Before we found the cache, we also saw several raccoons in this area.  They were too quick, and not interested in hanging out for a photo though.

From there we headed north again, all the way to the edge of the area.  Turning east at the northern border, we walked through a long grassy area where we saw a tortoise who was anxious to be left alone.  Here we turned south again and got back on to the Florida Trail with the orange blazes.
There were a couple of small bridges that went over dry ditches; I suspect that these are normally full of water, but right now the ground is dry.  There are a lot of oaks with ferns growing on them.  Some of them look like they're sporting Mohawk hair styles.

Soon we came up on Tootoosatchee Creek (again, I think).  This was really a neat spot.  I think my favorite view around the creek was the tree with the roots growing downwards from about 6 feet up.
Interesting Roots
Covered picnic area We finished up the hike back at the covered picnic area where we started.  A nice picnic lunch to end the trip before driving home was the perfect way to cool off.

If you would like to see where the pictures were taken, or to download the .kml file (or just see more details), click on the “Trip Details” link below the map.

Last parking area
Hoot Owl Hilton trail junction
One of many birdhouses
Tom at Nettles Trail junction
Tosohatchee Gate
Grassy area with Tom sneaking into the photo
Orange blazes for Florida Trail
Clouds and Pine Trees
Small bridge
Mushroom frowny face
Ferns on oak
Creek by the trail
Interesting Roots & Big Cypress Knees
Another little bridge
Tom by big bridge
Tootoosatchee Creek
Twisted Oak with Ferns

Powered by Wikiloc