Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hiking Withlacoochee State Forest–Holder Mine

Our campsiteOn Saturday morning we were up early and, after a cup of coffee or two, we were ready to hit the trails again.  Our plan for this trip was to explore the area around Holder Mine.  This is an old phosphate mine from the early 1900’s that has now become a pond (phosphate was mined as a quarry), and it is just a stone’s throw away to the north.

Blue blazes - spur trailWe headed north along the beginning of the same path we took yesterday, but veered more to the north as we hiked parallel to Forest Rd. 9 as we followed the blue blazes towards the mine.  The blue bands around the trees mark the equestrian trail, but we didn’t see any horses out here today. 

Tina on trail blazed with flagsWe didn’t spend much time on this part of the trail, as we soon came upon a trail blazed with blue flags were the forest is a little greener and a little more dense than the scrub areas further to the west.  Flags like these are usually used to mark areas that may turn into a new “regular” blazed trail, and we followed these for most of this hike.

Andy about to climb over fallen treesJust a bit further along the guide trip that I had loaded into my GPS app directed us up a hill that was blocked by some fallen trees.  That wasn’t going to slow us down though… climbing over the downed trees took us in the direction we wanted to go, and they were solid enough that we didn’t have to worry about them falling as we went over. 

View of holder mine through treesOnce at the top of the hill we were were back on the blue flagged trail which took us right to the edge of the hill that overlooks Holder Mine through the trees.   The water in the mine is nearly covered with watercress, or a similar water plant, so it almost looks like it can be walked on.

Bridge pillarsWe considered climbing down to the water’s edge (about thirty feet or so), but decided against it.  The trail was taking us all around, and the other side looked lower and more accessible.  Instead, we continued exploring – we wanted to see if we could find some of the waypoints in our guide trip.

Top of pillarThe first thing that we looked for was some old pillars that were likely used to support a bridge for either a railway or for mining equipment.   The pillars are shaped like pyramids with flat tops, and coming out of the top of each is a single metal pole.  A little to the southeast from here is one other small pillar that is really eroded, and all alone.  It’s difficult to guess if there were others around it in the past or if it had a different purpose.

Forest vines 2There is one spot along the edge of the mine up here that looks like someone’s campsite was washed down the hill.  There was a trail of stuff that included a towel, a backpack, a blanket, and some other stuff that went about halfway down the hill.  It was an odd thing to find mainly because it looked like it was recently used.  I hope the owner came be back to find the stuff they left behind.

The trail continues on from here to the southeast through a picturesque forest with really large vines growing on the trees before opening up to the mine again at the water level.  Back in the sun, we paused to take a few pictures and look around for a bit before continuing our journey.

Holder Mine - Pano

Forest Road

We finally headed back by way of an old forest road that went to the north, but when we turned towards the west, we were no longer on a blazed (or flagged) trail.  The undergrowth here was light so it was an easy walk for a short way before we reconnected with the blue spur trail.  Much of the way back from the blazed trail was spent retracing our footsteps, until we got down to the area where we first entered the blue flagged trail. 

When we arrived at that spot we decided to head due south to see what we could find, and we were surprised to find that the trail took us right back to the campground through an opening in the fence just across from where our camper was set up.  We didn’t even see the opening before we left.  The timing for our arrival back at our campsite was perfect – it was time for lunch and a relaxing before heading out on our next trip.

If you would like to see the technical details of the hike, where the pictures were taken, or to download a guide trip, just click on the “Trip details” link below the map.

Fallen trees on hill View of holder mine through trees 2 View of holder mine through trees 3
View of holder mine through trees 4Vine covered tree Old stump Andy photographing pillars
Andy by bridge pillars Bridge pillars 2 Eroded pillar
Holder Mine - Ground level Holder Mine - Ground level 2 Andy by Holder Mine

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